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SciLi to convert three floors into centers, labs

$7 million renovations will feature new language- and social science-focused research laboratories

The 11th, 12th and 13th floors of the Sciences Library will be renovated this year to create space for the Language Resource Center and the new Laboratory for Educational Innovation and Social Sciences Research Lab, said Provost Mark Schlissel P’15. The $7 million project aims to revitalize current shelf space to accomodate these new endeavors, he added.

The three floors slated for renovation are currently home to medicine and engineering journals and masters’ theses. These materials will be moved to the Library Collections Annex, a facility off campus that contains millions of University-owned books, journals and other materials, said David Banush, associate University librarian for access services.

As of now, 150,000 items will be removed from the three floors, Banush said. Decisions on what materials will remain in the SciLi depend on what the faculty considers “essential,” he added.

Documents from floors other than the 11th, 12th and 13th may be removed to make space for printed materials from the renovated floors. As a result, current collections may be shifted, he said, adding that items selected for relocation to the annex can still be shipped to campus upon student request.

“We believe that there is a shift in the way that libraries are used,” said Harriette Hemmasi, University librarian. “It doesn’t mean that libraries aren’t valuable, but they’re used differently.”

The renovation project is part of a long-term effort to repurpose space in University libraries, Schlissel said. As more journals and books become available online, the areas that contain these documents will be better utilized for other projects.

Similar renovations, like the creation of the SciLi’s third-floor Science Center, have been completed in the past to replace unnecessary shelf space with student study spaces, Hemmasi said.

“The Rockefeller Library, particularly, and the Sciences Library were made primarily to house a lot of books, and we don’t have the same use for those books as we did fifty years ago,” Banush said. “Moving them off-site and opening these spaces for other uses is critical.”

The Laboratory for Educational Innovation, supervised by the Sheridan Center for Teaching and Learning, will be a space for multimedia-oriented collaboration, Schlissel said. The laboratory will be used to create more online and media content for teaching purposes.

The new facility will have “experts in structural design and the production of digital content,” Schlissel said. The laboratory will facilitate professors’ engagement with digital media and its integration into the classroom experience.

Members of Computing and Information Services will be relocated from the Center for Information Technology to the SciLi to assist professors with technology in the laboratory and in the Language Resource Center. The move will free up space in the CIT for computer science programs, Schlissel said.

The new LRC location — previously only an online service — will provide faculty and students with a space for performing research in language studies, said Ravi Pendse, vice president for CIS. The space will provide one-on-one facilities for professors to engage with students. The technology and pedagogy staff from the CIT will assist professors and students, Pendse said.

“The Language Resource Center will create an amazing learning, sharing, collaborative space for faculty and students,” he said, adding that the space will include computers where students will be able to communicate with foreign language speakers abroad.

The Social Sciences Research Lab, which will focus on economics, psychology and political science programs, will contain computers for research testing purposes, Schlissel said.

The space will be geared toward professors and graduate students, he said.

The renovation will cause no temporary closures, Schlissel added.

The project, the timeline of which has not been established, is currently in the planning stages, with efforts being made to avoid interrupting the academic year, Banush said. Further expansion of the project to other floors of the SciLi as well as other libraries remains possible.

The renovation will be funded mostly through alum donations and gifts, said Beppie Huidekoper, executive vice president for finance and administration. The Corporation, the University’s highest governing body, “is hoping to move things as quickly as possible,” she said, adding that renovations could start as early as the fall.


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