It’s not what it looks like: Snell renovations add seats to 4th floor


File photo by Yunkyo Kim

Snell will be closing for part of the weekend.

Yunkyo Kim, news correspondent

While most students were home for winter break, two significant buildings on campus were getting ready for their return. Snell Library and Marino Recreation Center underwent changes over winter break meant to better fit visitor needs.

According to Snell Library Director of Communications Hillary Corbett, 2 million non-unique people visit the library each year. With administrators relocating some books to off-site storage in 2018, the recent renovation was an ongoing effort to expand user-friendly space. It heavily concentrated on replacing antiquated furniture on the fourth floor to create a modern and versatile space for silent studying. In addition, more space on the third floor has become available for studying.

At Marino Recreation Center, the Department of Athletics and Recreation focused on maintenance. This consisted of repairing lockers and equipment, reconditioning floors, deep cleaning and painting, among other projects. This involved numerous contractors working in all areas of the building.

Despite these efforts at both facilities, some students said they do not see a significant improvement.

“The machines are just newer,” said Michelle Fong, a fifth-year nursing major who regularly exercises at Marino.

Others said the center should invest in more space and equipment in order to accommodate more people.  

“I have noticed that none of the machines are out of order, which usually [there] would be at least one or two treadmills not working, and everything seems to be working now, which is good,” said Mollie Scott, a fourth-year civil engineering major. “There’s already not really enough machines, in my opinion.”

Students at Snell Library expressed that the renovations are aesthetically different, but did little to change their studying experience.

“It’s super noticeable. Even with the color scheme that they used with the bright orange, it’s really hard to miss the changes that they made,” said fourth-year marketing major Carly Rudiger.

Austin Roth-Eagle, a fourth-year communications major who uses Snell Library often, said the renovations seem to decrease available seating space.

“I study [at Snell] pretty much exclusively,” Roth-Eagle said. “I think [the changes] are pretty visually pleasing, but one thing we notice, my friends and I always study in the same place, and they took all of the tables out of that area. So we were kind of confused. What kind of library takes seats away versus adding more? I guess I would have liked more options.”

However, Corbett said that despite the appearance, the number of seats has not, in fact, decreased. And she said the issue of limited seating is not up to the library administration to increase without limit.

“We are limited by the fire code,” Corbett said. “We are really happy to say that we have about 10 percent more seats on the fourth floor than we previously did, even though it looks like there’s a lot of open space. We’re hoping that the open spaces will help quiet areas stay quiet.”

There are no immediate plans for further large-scale renovation at Snell Library. However, the administration still seeks to continue to optimize library space and seating through visitor input. They conduct regular meetings with the Student Government Association and the library student advisory group to adapt to evolving student needs.

“We are definitely planning to observe how the new furniture is used as well as soliciting feedback from students, and we can use that information to rearrange furniture on the fourth floor into configurations that are better for folks, based on that input,” Corbett said. “Beyond that, we are always open to student input. We always definitely consider it seriously when we’re planning any building or service changes.”