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Capen renovations are an exercise in patience

Remodel in Silverman Library is a short-term annoyance, but worthwhile in the long run

“Delayed gratification” will have to serve as the motto for students using North Campus libraries this year, as “Club Capen” shuts down in order to undergo a dramatic remodel.

Longer lines and louder study spaces in Lockwood and Silverman libraries may cause some headaches, but the carefully planned and much-needed improvements to the third floor of the Silverman Library will be worth it – eventually.

As part of UB’s Heart of the Campus project, a UB 2020 initiative involving renovations on all three campuses, the Silverman Library is getting a facelift.

Up until its closing in December, Club Capen served as a popular 24-hour study space. When it eventually reopens – in fall 2015, at the earliest – the area will cater more closely to student needs.

UB wisely took student opinions into account regarding the remodel, using surveys and focus groups to generate ideas for the renovations. Because the original plans for the remodel had to be downsized due to budgetary constraints, it’s even more important that funds be spent on relevant improvements.

Redesigned classrooms, natural lighting and more power outlets will undoubtedly improve students’ studying experiences.

The plan to divide the area into different sections, allowing for a variety of noise levels across the floor, clearly acknowledges students’ current use of Club Capen as a place to meet for group projects and hold discussions and events.

In the meantime, Lockwood Library takes over as North Campus’s 24-hour library. Its location is slightly less convenient – Capen is mere steps from Flint Loop – but the switch is still an impressive demonstration of logistical flexibility on the part of library staff.

Fortunately, Silverman Library remains open as well, so students still have access to multiple library locations where they can print materials and check out books.

UB was smart to avoid closing down anything beyond a single floor of Silverman – North Campus in general is consistently a hub of activity, and during the week’s peak hours, it’s not unusual for students to face long lines everywhere – from the Student Union to Starbucks, and of course, the libraries.

Even without a single floor shut down, it’s not uncommon to wait for a computer, and then wait to print and then wait some more just to find an unused stapler.

Finding an empty seat – much less an available table – is typically a challenge. This semester, that will be even more difficult.

And for large groups trying to meet, the competition for space will become fiercer.

So the inconvenience may be worth a few complaints or muttered expletives, but not much more than that. Having multiple libraries on the same grounds and a 24-hour facility are luxuries to begin with.

And attending a university willing to listen to its students’ feedback and cater to their needs, spending its reduced budget on renovations that are actually worthwhile and exciting is an even greater extravagance – one that is worth the wait.


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