The Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library has been hard-pressed getting everything updated, ready and up to speed. While students have been scurrying about to their classes, workers have been diligently updating the library in order to create a better place to learn for everyone on campus.The renovation project is touted as transforming the original library into the Learning Commons. According to the Learning Commons website, “The learning commons will be a modern, collaborative learning environment, a place to study, snack, surf, research, get tutoring and much more.”
W&O Construction is the company replacing the carpet, painting the walls, adding ceiling tiles, and installing more electrical power supply throughout the library.
“I know it is a hardship on some of the students now,” said David Taylor, W&O construction superintendent, “but when this is completed, it will be a really updated library for them. The main floor will have many new finishes, and it’s increasing the electrical/IT everywhere. It will be really convenient for the students.”
Construction on the library has been marred with controversy since beginning last semester. Many faculty members expressed frustration with Tech’s decision to discard books in favor of an eventual student lounge and meeting area. Students have also been voicing their concerns with complaints about everything from unreliable printers to crowded study areas.
Administrators are not oblivious to the criticism. The Jan. 11 edition of “Tech Times” warned library-goers that until the Commons opens in August, “Students and faculty can expect some construction noise.”
“There’s plenty of other places on campus to go to hang out,” said John Shellhammer, senior engineering student. “The library should be a library.”
Popular opinion is that the library’s facelift is being implemented to appeal to prospective students. However, students from other area colleges seem less than impressed.
“[The Learning Commons] sounds kind of stupid,” said Hayden Mason, communications major at Middle Tennessee State University. Mason, who transferred from Tech last year, insists that a new study area wouldn’t be enough to sway his decision when picking a school.
Matthew Patterson, a former University of Tennessee student, who now attends University of Tennessee-Chattanooga echoed Mason’s sentiment saying, “Incoming freshmen may really like the idea, but to make any sense, it really has to impress parents, since they are probably paying the bills.”
Mason said, “I didn’t go to campus to hang out. We’d go to someone’s house or find something to do away from school, like hiking. I’d study in my room, and I don’t think I ever ate on campus.
“I just don’t see the point,” he concluded.
When this project is completed in August, there will be access to electrical outlets throughout the library. Accessibility to outlets span from one of the 28 columns every seven feet.
A big portion of the construction crew’s job will be completed during Tech’s spring break. During the break, the water lines will be shut down in order to hook one up to the new café being built. All other library construction will be done during regular school hours and on Saturdays.
Taylor believes that everything is going rather well, and as long as they don’t run into anything unexpected, the biggest parts should be finished by sometime during mid-May. Right now, W&O is waiting on Tech to pick what kind of ceiling tile they would like before installing the carpet.
Another project that W&O is working on across from the library at Clement Hall is installing a new system power generator. The addition of the generator will ideally keep the computer room from ever going down due to power loss.