Reserves closed for renovations
By Sharla Grass , The Dartmouth Staff
Published on Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Baker Library’s basement Reserve Corridor closed for the summer on June 18 to make way for renovations to improve the viewing experience of the Orozco murals and enhance the configuration of the study space, according to Deputy Librarian Cyndy Pawlek. Books on reserve will be available at the main circulation desk until the room reopens at the beginning of Fall term.
The current renovations, funded by a $1 million grant from the Manton Foundation, were originally proposed as a way to improve the lighting for the Orozco murals, titled “The Epic of American History,” but then grew into a comprehensive upgrade of the room to encourage students to view it as a desirable study space, Pawlek said.
“We wanted to improve the study space because a lot of students don’t know that room exists unless they have reserve readings that take them down there,” she said.
The addition of sustainable light-emitting diodes will “enhance and enrich” the experience of the murals, associate director of the Hood Museum of Art Kathy Hart said. The lighting will make the mural’s colors noticeably more vivid, she said.
Painted in the 1930s, the murals cover 3,000 feet of wall space and depict 24 scenes of the pre-Columbian and post-Columbian evolution of Mexico.
Prior to the improvements, visitors used chairs from the many tables in the room to view the murals, Pawlek said. When the room reopens, however, it will feature soft seating — including groupings of chairs and coffee tables at both ends of the room — and benches, so that people can sit and view the murals comfortably while listening to audio tours, Pawlek said.
The project will also improve the acoustics of the room while maintaining its original look by installing new ceiling tiles, according to Pawlek.
“The space is very echo-y because it’s a hard floor,” she said. “We didn’t want to make major aesthetic changes, but we are adding a dropped acoustic ceiling integrated into that new lighting ceiling to cut down on some of the acoustic reverberation in the room.”
To protect the murals, ultraviolet filters will be added to the current windows. The filters will not have an impact on the quality of light in the room, Pawlek said.
Students will also benefit from new electrical outlets and lamps on the tables, according to Hart.
Members of the College community said they do not expect the renovations to affect students significantly during the term.
“It’s probably going to affect visitors to the mural more than students because there’s plenty of good study space during the summer,” Pawlek said. “I’m hoping that in the fall it will provide expanded study space for students, especially by getting the electrical outlets in the tables. I think more people will come down because there will be a place to plug your laptop in, making the room functional for students.”
Hart said that the future improvements for students are worth the current “slight inconvenience.”
This term was chosen for the project because of the fewer number of students on campus, Hart said.
“[Summer term] is one of the lightest usage times for students using the reserve reading [room],” Hart said. “They needed a big block of time to do this work.”
Students interviewed said they do not think the closing of the room will cause a large inconvenience to library visitors.
“I think it’s really good that they’re closing it for the maintenance issue because it’s something that’s almost 80 years old,” Jessica Womack ’14 said. “But I think it’s one of those underrated student spaces that I personally frequent a lot, where you have a really good exposure for students to art just because a lot of undergraduates don’t go to the [Hood Museum] on a regular basis like they should.”
Jackie Taylor ’14 said that though she has enjoyed frequently studying in the room, students will not be negatively impacted by the upgrade because they will be able to utilize the library’s other study spaces.