Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
June 22, 2024

Dean of MSE provides updates on renovation project

By LEO QI | April 9, 2024

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COURTESY OF PFEIFFER PARTNERS

The Hopkins Club and Hodson Hall will serve as the main alternative study spaces when renovations begin at the Milton S. Eisenhower Library.

On Wednesday, March 27, Sheridan Dean of University Libraries, Archives, and Museums Elisabeth M. Long hosted a virtual town hall discussion on the current status of the Milton S. Eisenhower Library (MSE) renovation project, providing notable updates on the planning process.

In an interview with The News-Letter, Lauren Knudson, a freshman majoring in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, discussed her perspective on the current state of the library.

“I use the library a lot, probably 20 hours a week. I think there should be more speaking levels since the current spaces often get pretty crowded,” she said. “It would also be nice if there were more natural lighting rather than feeling like you are in a dungeon.”

This year marks the 60th anniversary of the library's opening in 1964. Other than a minor renovation in the 1990s, the building has stayed much the same. The motivations behind the renovation include issues with the maintenance system, the need for life safety upgrades and other patron feedback, such as the lack of natural lighting.

The main update from the meeting concerned the University’s plans to establish alternative study spaces while the MSE building is closed. Long said that the main service point will be the Hopkins Club, a three-level building situated between the Chemistry Building and Decker Garden.

“The inclusion of Hopkins Club is providing a solution that goes beyond our initial goal to secure study locations for students and will allow the continuation of our core library services,” Long said.

Long also emphasized that the Brody Learning Commons will continue to operate. Regarding noise concerns, Long said that the University would work with contractors to schedule the most noise-intensive work during off hours.

“I think the move to Hopkins Club would be a nice change of scenery, especially since MSE does really need a bit of an update,” Knudson said.

As library operations transition from MSE to the Hopkins Club, Long explained that the University will do its best to replicate existing services. This process includes moving existing security personnel at MSE to the new building.

“We will have a variety of study spaces there with tables, whiteboards and lounge seating,” she said. “There will be a divide between quiet and more collaborative spaces. Some rooms will serve as group study spaces. These changes to Hopkins Club will help us replicate what is currently at MSE.”

Subsequent presentations of specific floor plans offered a look at how the spaces could be set up to best suit student needs. Long said that they are working with the Student Government Association and a committee of graduate students for input on setting up these spaces.

Hodson Hall will also be designated as a study space with an expected capacity of 200 seats. The Hodson Trust Reading Room, lobby spaces, Board Room and the second-floor terrace will serve to accommodate students.

Long emphasized that the library committee is open to engaging Hopkins affiliates regarding the project's status.

“We have renovation pages now on our library website that have information on the project with a feedback form as well as plans for more of these town hall events. There will also be a Furniture Fair later on, where students can weigh in on furniture selection,” she said.

In the second part of the meeting, Long revisited the details of the MSE Library Modernization Project, showing renderings of the various levels, including a redesigned reception area. The guiding priorities for the renovation revolve around illuminating and decompressing spaces, enhancing universal design and supporting sustainability while maintaining flexibility. One key change will be a wishbone staircase connecting the underground levels with a glass roof.

Ryan Lu, a freshman majoring in Computer Science, shared his opinion of the design renderings in an interview with The News-Letter.

“I think adding glass panels and double-height spaces could reduce the effective study spaces. I would like to see an expansion in the actual area underground of MSE,” he said.

To conclude the town hall, Long reemphasized her commitment to an effective plan for alternative study locations over the MSE renovation period.

“We are very aware that students spend a lot of hours in the library, and we are doing what we can to meet their needs. I really believe that we have a solution that will provide the kind of services students need,” she said.

For students interested in keeping up with the renovation project or wishing to provide input, Long shared plans for eliciting student feedback in an email to The News-Letter.

“We will continue to hold town halls to provide updates on the renovation and get feedback on how interim spaces/services are working,” she wrote. “I have also committed to forming a Sheridan Libraries Student Advisory Council in the fall. This is a group the Libraries used to have, and I’d like to reinstate it. It will be an excellent way to ensure student concerns can be raised, and we have a standing group to ask for input as we plan things.”


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