Credit: File Photo | Mustang News

The upcoming multi-million-dollar renovation of Kennedy Library has forced Cal Poly to find temporary study spaces for students — including in a campus parking lot.

The library renovation is scheduled to begin this summer and to be finished by Fall 2025. The project’s budget is currently set at $77 million, a number that’s steadily increased over time.

A temporary structure for students will be built in parking lot C7, located adjacent to O’Neill Green at the corner of California Boulevard and North Perimeter Road. Cal Poly is in the process of identifying a second location to build additional study spaces, according to a university news release

Additionally, Chandler and San Luis Lounges in the University Union will serve as designated student study spaces.  

“The library transformation is now in the design-build stage, and our team has worked hard to identify spaces to serve students, faculty, and staff throughout the process,” Mike McCormick, the university’s assistant vice president of facilities management and development, said in the news release. 

Built in 1980, Kennedy Library is over 40 years old and needs significant system upgrades, according to the news release. The university has been planning the library renovation for the past four years and it is now slated to begin following Spring 2023 commencement. 

The university’s drafted transformation plans, which are not yet finalized, outline a first-floor renovation, paint and carpet refreshes throughout the five floors, added cooling and mechanical systems and electrical replacement throughout the first floor.

“We have an opportunity to turn the renovation into a project that ensures that future generations of Mustangs have transformational experiences each time they step into the building,” said Adriana Popescu, Cal Poly’s dean of library services.

The draft of the project’s plans show an expansion of the 24-hour Hub, more indoor and outdoor group study spaces., as well as moving the current 2nd-floor cafe to the first floor. 

Keeping the library a study space is among the top concerns for civil engineering senior Suha Hussain.

 “I hope they keep the library feel,” Hussain said. “What I’m afraid of is that they might also get rid of a lot of the books, and just make this more of like an office, like a classroom-type building.”

Hussain has been a student employee at the library for the past three years, working as a library research assistant technician. During her freshman year, Hussain heavily relied on the library’s computer labs because she did not have access to her own laptop. 

“I really relied on the physical computers they have downstairs — I think that it’s really important that they keep those computers and the study rooms,” Hussain said.

Throughout the renovation planning process, architects met with many campus stakeholders to discuss renovation needs vital to student success.

Among these stakeholders is Student Library Advisory Council (SLAC). In fall quarter, the architects met with members of SLAC to go through each individual floor of the library to make note of the services provided and what students use most, according to the president of the council, mechanical engineering junior Jake Leeuwenburg. 

“SLAC, in no way, has any sort of decision-making power, but the architects use us throughout their process to find out what student needs are,” Leewenburg said. 

As a student who actively uses the library, Leewenburg is empathetic toward the loss of the space Kennedy Library provides, but understands the renovation is necessary. 

“I think that the faculty and just the university, in general, knows how valuable the library is to students, and even though it might not be well known, they’re things that the library staff is doing. And even groups like us are just like, trying to make the situation better and make it run more smoothly,” Leewenburg said.

Additional funds will go towards new LED lighting throughout, a new staircase and a full roof replacement, according to the supposed plans which are not yet finalized.

Additional transformation objectives include showcasing university special collections throughout the first floor for easier browsing and consolidating student services on the first floor to better support students, faculty and staff.

In order to optimize building performance the renovation hopes to replace the exterior glazing to meet California Energy Codes and to regulate building temperature.

The university also plans to update the current service elevator into a passenger elevator and new restrooms will supposedly be added to the first floor to increase accessibility. 

The library will close for two years during the renovation to ensure the safety of the campus community and construction partners. All services provided by the library will continue to be available for student and faculty use in various locations around campus. 

Some services will be centrally located in the newly renovated Crandall Gym (Bldg. 60). Crandall Gym is located across from Spanos Stadium and next to Student Services. These services include Interlibrary Loan pick-up, course reserves, the digital projects lab, the research help desk and Cal Poly Print and Copy. 

Services provided by the Writing and Learning  Initiatives Office will be available in Graphic Arts (Bldg. 26). Center for Teaching, Learning and Technology and library administration, faculty and staff offices will be in Chase Hall (Bldg. 115).

Special Collections services will be joining the Writing and Learning Center in Bldg. 26, and General Collections’ back-of-house operational support will be at Cal Poly Corporation Warehouse (Bldg. 82, Room 100). Most of the special collections and Archives Collections will be stored in Dexter (Bldg. 34) 

Locations for Graduate study rooms and Honors Program will be announced soon.

The university plans to share finalized renovation plans with the campus community as soon as they’re available, according to university spokesperson, Matt Lazier.

The university has not yet provided information requested by Mustang News regarding funding sources for the project, any effect the renovation will have on library staffing and exactly how much the renovation will increase seating by.