2 floors of Moffitt Library to close this summer for renovations

Sierra Brown/Staff

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This summer, Moffitt Library’s fourth and fifth floors will close for a renovation project that aims to accommodate an increasingly technological campus and provide students with a more suitable learning environment.

Of the many changes to take place, the library will introduce new 24-hour and food-friendly policies and will create a more open studying space with more than 500 new meeting and conference areas. The project is set to be completed by September 2016.

During renovations, the first three floors and the Free Speech Movement Cafe will stay open.

The decision to renovate Moffitt is supported by the Commission on the Future of the UC Berkeley Library. The commission — established in fall 2012 in response to budget cuts — released a report in fall 2013 recommending that the library receive priority in terms of investment and support for digital platforms, among other recommendations.

The project — which includes a more sustainable design along with a new roof, elevators and open-air balconies — will draw partly from the Capital Renewal Fund, money set aside for construction related to maintenance or improvement. According to associate university librarian Beth Dupuis, the project is also funded through donations.

A “research and creative commons” that could include a digital studio, maker lab and a data and information center is also in the works to “(nurture) student creativity and technological skills,” according to a press release.

Gensler — the architectural design firm involved in the project — is known for its service-based design and has a background of having worked on Apple stores and parts of San Francisco International Airport.

Both the fourth and fifth floors will see stronger Wi-Fi, more outlets and a better heating and cooling system. According to Dupuis, one floor will be dedicated to quiet learning, while the other will be oriented toward social and group learning. The latter floor will contain space for group meetings, more whiteboards and less strict noise policies.

“We model fresh thinking about ways to support today’s students who are active, connected, distracted and ambitious,” Dupuis said in an email, emphasizing the need for libraries to adapt as learning styles evolve.

A student version of the commission, formed by 2012-13 ASUC academic affairs vice president Natalie Gavello, also focused on increasing operating hours and incorporating interactive learning resources.

“We can definitely benefit from more group study areas,” freshman Jenna Maughan said. “It’s also great that Moffitt will be open 24 hours because a lot of us stay up late and need a place to study early in the morning.”

ASUC Academic Affairs Vice President Mon-Shane Chou cautioned that a 24-hour library could pose challenges, such as nighttime campus safety, that will need to be addressed. She thinks the renovations will be overall beneficial, however.

“This is a step in the right direction on how library services can keep up with the changing needs of students,” Chou said in an email.

Staff writer Heyun Jeong contributed to this report. 

Contact Whitney Brymwitt at [email protected].