Kellen Stepler | features editor
Picture this: You’re on Duquesne’s campus, sitting in one of eight new, glass-walled group study rooms with white boards, easy access to electrical outlets and comfortable and collaborative furniture.
Where are you?
Currently, nowhere. But in August 2020, you’ll be in the newly renovated fifth floor of the Gumberg Library.
Gumberg staff has already moved materials from the fifth floor to other storage areas on the first floor, and during spring break, library staff will remove shelving for bound journals and AV materials from the fifth floor. The first floor and the fifth floor will be closed during spring break. However, access to the fifth floor and the curriculum center will not be affected during the Spring 2020 semester.
No major work will be done during midterms and finals, but the fifth floor will close for the summer directly after commencement to complete renovations. New flooring and furniture will be installed during the summer of 2020 and the fifth floor is scheduled to reopen in early August.
“The fifth floor renovations will create a space that better reflects the study habits of Duquesne undergraduate students,” said university librarian Sara Baron. “The floor has long been the go-to space in the library for collaborative and group study, and we hope to enhance the study experience and environment.”
The project will slightly increase the number of seating options on the fifth floor. Additionally, the floor will have soft seating, an electric fireplace and air purification, according to Baron.
“We are adding flexible, task-oriented furniture that students can mix and match to suit their diverse needs,” Baron said. “We are also creating a warmer and more welcoming space for students who oftentimes spend many hours of the day at the library.”
Gabriel Welsch, vice president of marketing and communications at Duquesne, said that the design and renovation are driven by student requests and needs for more flexible spaces within the library.
“The benefit to all users of the library will be the existence of new and high-quality space in the center of campus for students and faculty to collaborate and study,” Welsch said.
More than 80% of the renovation cost came from a private alumni donation. The donor is deceased, so the gift funding the renovation was provided through a bequest, which is a charitable gift stipulated in a will.
“The estate of Isobel McKenna, daughter of Florence McKenna DU ’52, was designated ‘for the use and benefit of [Duquesne’s] libraries, preferably in the undergraduate schools,’” the obituary read.
Overall, the project will cost approximately $400,000, and the remaining funding will come from the university to update the flooring.
The bound journal collections and audio and video collections will be reduced by removing resources that are available digitally or had little to no use. The print music collection and equipment will remain on the fifth floor.
T Construction and Consulting Services of Oakdale is doing the construction work. The firm is 100% woman-owned and operated with a Women Business Enterprise (WBE) certification. The painting will be done by Kristakis Decorating of Pittsburgh, and Roth Carpet of Monroeville will complete the flooring.
Baron said that university librarians have been listening to suggestions they’ve received about the library over the years.
“As librarians, we are natural data gatherers,” Baron said. “Whether it’s a compliment or complaint about the current space, a tweet asking the library to invest in a microwave or a research article on the study habits of undergraduate students, we have been paying close attention.”
Baron said that the primary goal of the renovated fifth floor – and Gumberg Library in general – is to provide a safe, welcoming and inclusive environment for the Duquesne community.
“We hope the new space will bring people, ideas, and conversations together in an environment that truly inspires learning and enhances the educational experience of our students,” Baron said.
Note: A previous version of this story read that “Nearly 90% of the renovation cost came from a private alumni donation”. It has now been corrected to, “More than 80% of the renovation cost…”