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The renovations to the basement of Van Pelt Library will upgrade the furniture, lighting, and electrical system of the space. (File Photo)

Van Pelt Library's basement will undergo a major renovation at the end of the spring semester.

“It’ll be a brand new space you won’t even recognize,” said Sal Caputo, director of Facilities Management for Van Pelt.

Van Pelt's management staff decided to completely overhaul the basement after the Undergraduate Assembly brought up an issue with broken outlets in the space. The renovations will begin the day after Commencement on May 21, and the basement will be closed until a week or two before the start of the fall semester.

Facilities and Real Estate Services will add brighter lighting, replace the carpeting, repaint the walls, and replace the soft furniture in the basement with new pieces. They will also rewire the entire electrical system, Caputo said.

The renovation project began after UA representative and College sophomore Chase Serota and UA associate member and College sophomore Jesse Fox approached Caputo with concerns about the number of broken electrical outlets in the basement. Serota said after Caputo examined the outlets himself, he immediately called electricians, who discovered an electrical problem affecting the entire basement due to the advanced age of the system.

After examining the outlets, it was determined that the costs of fixing each individual outlet would not be worth it, leading to a revamp of the whole electrical system. Serota said after meeting with Caputo several times, the two decided that since they were already completely rewiring the electrical system, the basement was due for a “complete refresh" because of the dilapidated state of the basement.

Much of the electrical system and other amenities were installed 20 to 30 years ago, Caputo said. As a result, he said many outlets eventually stopped working and the furniture is “in tatters.”

Credit: Sukhmani Kaur

The decision to renovate the basement of Van Pelt Library was initially sparked by recurring problems with the outlets in the library.

College freshman Anneliese Israel said when she is studying late at Van Pelt, she does not like having to move to the basement after the library closes because it is overly crowded and dim.

"I never study in the basement unless I have to, and I hate when I have to," Israel said.

Engineering freshman Kara Li said even though Van Pelt is close to her engineering classes, she avoids studying in the basement because of the dark lighting and the close proximity of the tables, which makes it difficult to maneuver around the basement.

“We promise a world-class facility,” Caputo said. “The way to do that is to make sure these things are met: it’s comfortable, it’s clean, and things are in working order.”

Caputo and the UA are also considering creating a mindfulness space in Van Pelt, where students can relax during reading periods. A similar mindfulness space opened in Huntsman Hall last semester.

Caputo is now working with an office furniture company to get furniture samples in April, and the UA will then weigh in and help decide what pieces to order. Funding for the project will come from the library's budget and a cost for the renovation is yet undetermined, Caputo said.

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