Beginning in June 2013, UCSB’s Davidson Library will undergo a major construction project that will include a complete renovation of the two-story north building and the addition of a three-story building beyond it.

While the two remaining buildings including the main west entrance will continue to operate as normal, the two-story building, including the science and engineering library, government information section and map and imagery lab, will close until the project’s completion in January 2016. The renovation will integrate the Arts Library into the new three-story building and move the Special Collections to the updated two-story building. The project will be funded by a UC Regents-approved $71.6 million state bond initiative, without the use of student or tuition fees.

According to Assistant University Librarian Rebecca Metzger, planning for the library construction has been in the works for nearly two decades and is long overdue.

“The library has not been added to or renovated in 35 years,” Metzger said. “During that time the student body has increased tremendously, so if you come into the library on any given day you’ll just know that the building is packed.”

The library has been collaborating with construction management firm C.W. Driver to ensure that disturbances to students are minimal. Metzger said the first and most disruptive phase of the renovation consists of the two-story building being knocked down, which will be done during the summer.

“We definitely need to balance the need to keep the library open and … retain access to the collections and retain some place for students to study with the knowledge that [since] it is a construction project, there is going to be the associated noise,” Metzger said. “So, for example, during the summer we’re doing what we’re calling a summer surge, which is you know, really accelerated work over the summer. We’re going to endeavor to do as much work at night as possible over the summer.”

During the second and third phase of construction, the fire-suppression and earthquake protection systems of the eight-story tower will be retrofitted and the former 24-hour study room will be replaced with a glass-walled, three-story “Paseo,” connecting the library’s buildings and creating additional study space. As a result, those buildings and their current book drops will be unavailable until the project’s completion.

According to Project Coordinator Mark Hartell, students need not worry about the blocked areas since the library will create additional book drops. Hartell also said with the help of C.W. Driver employees, the project might be completed ahead of schedule.

“They are aggressive or bullish in their targets,” Hartell said. “It’s possible they’ll complete the project before this.”

According to University Librarian Denise Stephens, the library has, in anticipation of student questions, dedicated a section of its site to provide project news and contact information. The site will advise students on the least disruptive library times and hold open conversations with those carrying concerns or suggestions.

“What the library is doing is whatever [questions] people have, we will certainly do our best to answer,” Stephens said.

Open information sessions will take place periodically this week through March 7.


A version of this article appeared on page 1 of February 26th, 2013’s print edition of the Nexus.