BC Libraries Renovations Summer 2021

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Blue scaffolding supports criss-cross in front of a neogothic window of Bapst Library.

To avoid disrupting study in the (typically) crowded libraries, summer is often the only time that significant renovations can occur in the BC Libraries, and this summer is no exception. We are expecting some serious dust and noise in the O’Neill Library, the Theology and Ministry Library, and the Bapst/Burns building. Please expect periodic restrictions to spaces and collections and all the typical construction noise (we do provide ear plugs to the needy).  In each of the projects, contractors will be following BC Covid Protocols while on campus. Here are more details about what to expect during and after the renovations.

O’Neill Library

The 5th floor of O’Neill Library will start the second phase of the “student formation” project on May 25. If all goes according to plan, it will be completed on August 20. During that time there will be no access to O’Neill level 5; if you need items from that floor (call numbers A-D), request them via Interlibrary Loan. In 2019, an unused server room was cleared out and turned into a 3,000 square foot study space. Phase 2 will include the construction of 5-6 small group study rooms and refurbishment of the existing study rooms. More walls will come down to open up the new study space, visually connecting it to the atrium and physically connecting it to the Boston-facing study area. When it’s completed, people will be able to walk around all four sides of the atrium.

3 glass-fronted study rooms with wheeled chairs and tables abut an open study area with tall cafe seating.
Architect’s rendering of new glass-fronted study rooms in O’Neill Library’s 5th floor study space

Last summer, library staff relocated and shifted the 5th floor collection so that several ranges of shelving could be removed.  The result was a larger study space overlooking the Boston skyline. This summer, the space will be finished with a mix of new seating for both small groups and individual researchers.  At the north end of the area will be a mixed-use study/collaboration room with flexible furniture.

A light, airy space with a mix of counter, cafe table, and comfortable seating.
Architect’s rendering of O’Neill Library 5th floor study space overlooking Boston skyline.

Less visible but critical to the enjoyment of the 5th floor will be an HVAC upgrade. This will have the most impact on library use, requiring restricted access to the entire floor for most of the summer. When the floor is inaccessible, books can be paged for pickup the next day.  Finally, the bathrooms on the 5th floor will be redone- a very visible and equally critical necessity for the full enjoyment of this area.

Bapst & Burns Libraries

Wide scaffolding about 2 stories tall spans the front of Bapst library, and 7 workmen in bright yellow shirts and hardhats are at work on different levels
Scaffolding outside the Bapst Library entrance in Summer 2020

At the Bapst/Burns building, exterior work will continue for another summer. This year the project will involve replacing the roofing tiles on the north end of the building, restoring exterior masonry, and temporary removal and restoration of windows in Burns Library. Although the majority of the work will be in and around Burns Library, the College Road side of Gargan Hall and the Kresge Reading Room will also undergo masonry restoration, so noise will likely be an issue throughout Bapst Library as well.

4 workmen in bright yellow shirts on 4 levels of scaffolding inside the Burns tower, dramatically backlit by two stained glass windows, with light cascading from a lamp above them. Workmen on lower levels are handing scaffolding supplies to the men above.
Workmen erecting scaffolding in Burns Library on Saturday, April 24, 2021. Photo credit: John Walsh

The project will begin on Monday, April 26, with work in and around Ford Tower. Scaffolding will be erected around the Commonwealth Ave and College Rd sides of the building immediately after Commencement (May 24), and will remain in place through early October. 

Burns Library will be closed to researchers from Wednesday, May 19 through Monday, June 7 before resuming services on Tuesday, June 8. Burns will maintain research services 3 days a week during the summer, but these days will shift to Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursdays and appointments will be required for all researchers, including BC affiliates.

It is important to note that portions of the Burns collection will be removed from work areas, stored for the duration of the project and will be inaccessible to researchers. As always, contact Burns Library before visiting to confirm that what you need will be available. Entrances to Burns Library will change during construction; staff will provide up to date information for scheduled researchers, but please check the Burns LIbrary website and posted signage for updates.

Theology & Ministry Library

The final stage of the HVAC upgrade to the Theology and Ministry Library (TML) will also occur this summer. The antiquated fan coil units, which are located around the perimeter of the building on all floors, have been the weak link in the Library’s heating and cooling system since the replacement of the central HVAC system back in 2019.

The project will begin shortly after Commencement and continue through the summer and possibly into the fall. Work on the project will be done in zones, so discrete areas of the building will be inaccessible to users during the time when fan coil units in that zone are being replaced. Since sound carries readily at the TML, noise may be a factor throughout the project. Once the work is completed, however, there should be much greater control over temperature and relative humidity, and the total HVAC system should (finally) be operating at peak efficiency.

Scott Britton

Associate University Librarian, Public Services, Office of the University Librarian