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The project, which involves constructing glass walls, wood ceilings and a sculpture, will begin next week and finish at the end of May.

Credit: Weiwei Meng , Weiwei Meng

Workers will begin construction on Van Pelt Library next week to create the Moelis Grand Reading Room — a space opposite Weigle Information Commons in both location and philosophy.

Unlike WIC, where collaboration is encouraged, the Moelis Grand Reading Room will be a silent, sound-proof study room. Sara Leavens, the communications, marketing, and social media coordinator for Van Pelt Library, discussed the plan to build the new study space where the periodicals were previously located on the first floor of the library.

“We wanted to respond to student requests for a quieter space in Van Pelt Library,” Leavens said.

Vice Provost and Director of Libraries Carton Rogers added that this room will “restore balance to the library.” He also felt that the room addressed the lack of quiet study spaces both in Van Pelt Library and on campus as a whole.

According to Rogers, the project will be “fast-tracked,” beginning next week and finishing at the end of May. The room will have glass walls, wood ceilings, lights to mimic the stars and a wool and silk sculpture by artist Claudy Jongstra, who is featured at the Barnes Foundation. Rogers added that the sculpture will help with sound reduction as the fabric will absorb outside noise. The room will also feature 84 seats in the main area, and 13 “soft seats.”

Rogers also stressed the importance of the aesthetic aspects of the space. He noted that the addition of “elements of the outside” like the wood ceilings will create a warmer and more welcoming study environment.

“Van Pelt is a quintessential 1960s building, and yet I think we’ve done a really terrific job of humanizing it over the years,” Rogers said.

Assistant Director of Public Services Peter Collins said the construction will have little impact on students besides the relocation of the periodicals. The 2,700-2,800 periodicals available through the library will now be housed on the fourth floor. The microfilm and microfiche section will also be reconfigured and the equipment will be refreshed, but it will still remain in its original location.

Collins added that this new reading room will place Van Pelt Library above the more traditional libraries of peer institutions, putting its atmosphere on par with that of Fisher Fine Arts Library.

Leavens, Rogers and Collins all agreed that the project will greatly add to the overall appeal of Van Pelt Library for students looking for a focused, independent study space.

“I think it’s really going to be spectacular,” Rogers said. “I think the students and the whole community are going to be really impressed when they see the results of this project because it should be a great space.”

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