Construction on the southern facing first floor of the library on September 17. Photo taken by Jason Baugh.
Construction on the southern facing first floor of the library on September 17. Photo taken by Jason Baugh.

HSU counts down for Library’s return

Despite difficulties, library and construction faculty look positively towards the reopening of the university's library
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Anticipated to complete in the fall of 2019, HSU’s library construction has continued on far past its originally intended end date. A simple seismic retrofit intended to keep the building up to newly updated safety codes has turned into a full blown reimagining of the university’s library.

“When it first started, it started with the roof replacement and exterior painting,” Cyril Oberlander, dean of the university’s library, said. “What ended up happening is while we were waiting to do the second bid, the seismic coefficient changed in standards… [forcing] a redesign of our original plans.”

This sudden change in plans inspired the much larger update currently taking place at the campus library. This newly updated library will follow a more open floor design plan, allowing for the ability to create new spaces geared towards collaborative learning.

Oberlander listed changes ranging from whole new sets of LED lights with a focus on power consumption reduction, improvements in overall safety, and even a possible future virtual dissection table that would not only allow students to examine the human body through an interactive 3D model but also allow for the examining of wildlife and marine life too.

Jason Baugh, head construction project manager, added that along with the new LED light installations there will be new mechanical grills, mechanical ducting, improved air quality, and a total repainting and new flooring.

“We’re going more towards a green, more school color [theme],” Baugh said.

The library will also be added into the campus-wide system lockdown update, which will allow for the remote locking of any doors on campus at a moment’s notice. Baugh lastly teased that the library may see the addition of solar panels to it within the next few years as part of the university’s microgrid project.

Aside from the physical changes coming to the library, Oberlander and the faculty are working on making the library a hub for more important student resources.

“The YES House, Youth Education Service, and Academic Career Advising [are] now moving into the library,” Oberlander said. “And should be opening [with] the [re-opening] of the library.”

It’s easy to see now how such an originally small project wasn’t able to hit its intended end date. All these additions to the construction weren’t the only obstacles that Baugh and Oberlander hit along the way.

“It was like, how many curveballs can you get,” Oberlander said, sharing a laugh with Baugh. “Well…we had a few”

Due to the university’s location, many contractors have been hesitant to take on this huge project in such a secluded area, thus efforts had to be made to rein in the project’s budget. This largely entailed figuring out the best ways to cut corners financially without sacrificing imperative safety measures and features.

“We did end up having to get rid of our general contractor. They weren’t doing what they were supposed to and they weren’t going to hit our original milestones,” Baugh said. “But it’s fine. We’re getting there. I’m just happy to say we’re making the progress we have.”

Currently, they are on track to get the first floor open by November, with a full reopening of all floors by the beginning of next year’s spring semester. Prior to the pandemic, the library itself had on average 4,000 people visiting a single day and hosted over 2,100 events in 2018 alone, making its speedy return vitally important to student life.

Oberlander and Baugh both recognized the strain this project has brought to many students’ academic lives. Both felt a mutual sense of frustration about the whole situation.

“It was tough on people… I recognize that and I’m pushing as hard as I can to get them back into a space that they should have and rightfully so,” Baugh said.

For students looking to currently access library resources you can visit HSU’s official library website at https://library.humboldt.edu/ or visit the lowest level of the library in room 28 located at the building’s south entrance, open Mondays through Fridays from 8 am to 7 pm and Sundays from 11 am to 6 pm.

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