Moffitt Library May Close for Renovations

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It is 10:00 p.m. during midterm season, and hundreds of students have coalesced in one place - Moffitt Undergraduate Library.

If all goes according to Director of Doe and Moffitt Libraries Elizabeth Dupuis' plan, by 2012, these students may have to find somewhere else to study as the library undergoes extensive renovation. Dupuis, who first proposed that the library be renovated in May 2007, said she hopes plans will run on schedule, with construction beginning in 2012 and concluding in 2014. But due to a lack of funding, construction may be delayed until the necessary $50 million is raised.

For the duration of those 24 months, both the library and the Free Speech Movement Cafe would be closed to students. Although Doe Library would have increased hours, students said they would undoubtedly be impacted by the loss of valuable study space.

"The temporary closure of Moffitt will certainly be detrimental to students," said ASUC Student Action Senator Joey Freeman, a member of the Moffitt Student Advisory Council that will publicize the renovation plans. "We need to be proactive in identifying alternative study spaces and encouraging students to use the other incredible libraries on our campus, which are often underused."

The renovation itself primarily consists of an overall structural upgrade - including an upgraded elevator system and increased study space - and a complete overhaul of the heating and ventilation system to improve energy efficiency. According to Dupuis, the systems put in place 40 years ago were state-of-the-art for their time, but have since become outdated.

According to Freeman, one of the primary goals of the renovation is to maximize and create different types of study space unique to diverse academic needs and study habits of students.

Since the original proposal, Dupuis and her staff have been diligently working on amassing the necessary $50 million to fund the project. As of February, $10 million has been raised, but in order for the renovation to move forward in finalizing design plans, an additional $15 million to $20 million needs to be raised. Although the renovation was slated to begin in 2012, due to the funding shortfall, Dupuis is unsure of when construction will actually commence.

This, Dupuis said, is where the student advisory council, founded at the end of last semester, and the larger UC Berkeley community can make a difference.

The primary sponsors of the renovation are UC Berkeley alumni and members of the Library Advisory Board, many of which asked to know how students felt about the project before contributing more funds.

The 10-member council will have its first meeting this month and will primarily be working on initiating a video publicity campaign. The videos, which are each 30 seconds long, consist of UC Berkeley students sharing their personal stories of how Moffitt Library has impacted their individual lives. By emphasizing how the library is such an integral part of students' lives, students can help convince sponsors to donate more money to the cause, Dupuis said.

Part of Dupuis' effort to increase student awareness - and thus, raise more funds - involves the launching of a new public website, designed to provide UC Berkeley students and professors alike with interactive information on the renovation. According to Dupuis, the website's official purpose is to inform students about the renovation plans and to help them feel more connected to the process.

"We are at the stage of development where students can see the ideas we worked on for the past several years coming together," Dupuis said. "The website is one place where we can show how our renovation efforts have increased since 2007."

Meanwhile, Freeman and ASUC Student Action Senators Vishalli Loomba, Saerom Park and Michael Bloch, are working on a bill that will express the ASUC's support for the renovation and encourage campus administrators to identify alternative study spaces.

"The university says it's doing all it can to protect undergraduate education, but if we can't even figure out our libraries there is clearly a crisis of priorities that needs to be addressed," said Loomba, who is also a member of the student advisory council.


Contact Neetu Puranikmath at [email protected]

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