UI Main Library tries to minimize construction distraction ahead of finals


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With jackhammers chiseling into slabs of broken up concrete at the UI Main Library, the noise makes it difficult at times for Rachel Price to concentrate. And as finals week looms, library officials are finding creative ways to minimize disruption, even going so far as offering earplugs.

“There is a lot of banging going on, which makes it difficult to study, but you can find some place in the library a little more quiet,” said Price, a University of Iowa sophomore. “For the most part, you’re constantly annoyed by the construction.”

Price goes to the library four to five times a week, and every time she said she notices the construction going on.

The Main Library first-floor renovations are in the early stages, and officials say construction is on track to be completed by December 2013.

“We’re roughly 25 to 30 percent through,” said senior construction project manager Jeff Harney. “The final completion of all of the phases is to be done December 2013.”

Numerous steps have been taken to lessen the disturbance the construction might cause. Before the construction began, a suitable time to engage in noisy activities was discussed. Noisy activities are allowed until 11 a.m.

“Most students come to the library to study in the late afternoon and then evenings and night, so we try schedule the noise construction stuff at a different time of the day,” said Kristi Bontrager, the manager of public relations for the UI Libraries.

If the noise becomes too much for students, earplugs are available at the information desk on the first floor, and Bontrager encourages students to go on higher floors to work.

“The first and second floor can be a little bit noisy,” she said. “But if you to the third, fourth, and fifth floor, it’s a lot quieter up there.”

While construction is going on, not as much work will be getting done next week.

“We are restricted to no-noise activities during the finals week, so there will be little happening,” Harney said. “But there will also be a lot happening while students are out during winter break.”

Price enjoys going to the library at night because the construction is no longer an issue.

“[Going to the library at night] isn’t too bad because construction is over by then,” Price said. “It’s mainly in the afternoon when it’s the worst.”

UI freshman Schrie Weber found herself a cozy spot on the fifth floor to study.

“There’s this little area that’s secluded and quiet, so that I’m not distracted,” she said. “I haven’t noticed the [construction] too much.”

The workers are nearly complete with the demolition portion of the project.

Harney is confident the project will stay within its budget of approximately $11 million.

The first-floor renovations construction cost is estimated at roughly $7.2 million.

The once outdated east side of the first floor will be transformed into a 24-hour, technology-rich Learning Commons. The 37,000-square-foot space will include more than 100 desktops, more than 100 laptops, and 18 study rooms, and it will have space for 500-plus students.

Weber said she can’t wait for the new features of the library.

“I’m most excited about the new 24 hours, because I can stay as long as I want to,” she said.

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