Moffitt Library to close spring 2022 for seismic upgrades

photo of students studying in Moffitt Library
Sam Tilles/Staff
Moffitt Library set to close at the end of the fall semester due to seismic structure improvements.

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Moffitt Library will be closed to students during the spring 2022 semester for a seismic strengthening project that will take place from January to August of next year.

The library will close for students at the end of the day Friday, December 17, 2021, after the last final exam of the fall semester concludes, and is anticipated to reopen in fall 2022.

“The Moffitt seismic improvement project is part of a campuswide initiative to bring all buildings up to a given seismic performance rating,” said Elizabeth Dupuis, senior associate university librarian and director of Doe, Moffitt and the subject specialty libraries, in an email. “This is part of a new assessment of buildings across UC campuses that stemmed from updates to the UC Seismic Safety Policy, which the Regents adopted in 2017 to reach even higher levels of safety on our campuses.”

According to a 2019 evaluation to assess building seismic safety across the UC Berkeley campus, Moffitt Library is one of six buildings with a “very poor” rating.

Moffitt Library’s building seismic safety rating indicates an earthquake would cause extensive damage that could potentially lead to collapse or life-threatening hazards.

“The seismic strengthening project will wrap approximately 86 columns with structural carbon fiber reinforcing wrap,” said Kyle Gibson, a campus spokesperson, in an email. “The columns will then be encased in plaster, which is intended to match the appearance of existing columns.”

According to Dupuis, Moffitt Library is one of the most popular libraries among UC Berkeley students.

Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, in spring 2018 and 2019, Moffitt Library received an average of 5,835 visitors per day and 243 visits per hour, Dupuis stated.

“I’m in a couple of study groups, so it’s really important for me to have that space to meet with people to get work done,” said sophomore Avni Vachhani.

Doe Library and Main Stacks may be able to stand in as substitutes for Moffitt Library, according to Dupuis. Emergency funding provided by the campus will permit both libraries to remain open until 2 a.m. Thursday through Sunday.

Gibson added Student Affairs is currently working with the library and campus to identify alternative study locations for students during the closure of Moffitt Library.

“There’s not a lot of other areas on campus where students can meet and talk in a library setting or a study space setting,” Vachhani said. “Considering that Moffitt is so big and it’s going to be closed, everywhere else is just going to be packed so it’s going to be really hard to find space to get things done.”

While this closure is solely for seismic strengthening, students can expect to see more changes to Moffitt Library in the future.

Moffitt Library will prepare to renovate its lower three floors to complete its transition into the Center for Connected Learning, continuing an ongoing project that began when the fourth and fifth floors were renovated in 2016, the library’s website noted.

“While the temporary closure of one of our libraries is never convenient, I am pleased we are able to address this issue now,” Dupuis said in an email. “Prioritizing Moffitt Library for seismic improvement demonstrates the Library and the campus’s shared commitment to the health and safety of students and staff.”

Amy Zeng is a general assignment reporter. Contact her at [email protected], and follow her on Twitter at @amyzengg.