Renovated Fenwick library to open in January 2016

(Photo credit: Alya Nowilaty/Fourth Estate)

by Yu Bai

The new addition to Fenwick Library is scheduled to open at the start of the 2016 spring semester. With additional space nearly twice the size of the current library, Fenwick will provide additional study space on Mason’s Fairfax Campus campus, according to Senior Project Manager Alex Iszard.

Debra Hogan, executive assistant to the dean of libraries and university librarian, said students can expect to be able to use the new addition after returning to Mason on January 19, 2016.

“We are very excited about the opening,” stated John Zenelis, dean of libraries and university librarian. “The new Fenwick library is going to offer a study place from quiet [and] interactive, to noisy and energizing for groups of students.”

He said the new Fenwick will provide high-end technologies designed specifically for upper-level students and faculty who already possess sufficient research skills. The Gateway Library, in contrast, will focus on providing research assistance to undergraduate students.

“We are trying to differentiate the new library from the Gateway Library as much as we can,” Zenelis said.

Iszard said there will be about 2,400 seats in Fenwick once the addition is complete. This is four times the current number of seats in the library.

The new Fenwick will also offer a research commons, similar to the space created in Innovation Hall last summer, to support individual and collaborative projects. When students use the research commons, they will have access to research librarians who specialize in different fields of study. Students can either walk in for consultation or make an appointment with the library’s reservation system.

In addition, the expanded library will include group study rooms on the third and fourth floors. These rooms will vary in capacity, the smallest holding about three to four people, the largest holding up to 10. Students will also have access to two presentation practice rooms, also on the third floor, where they can record presentations and receive immediate feedback from monitors installed in the rooms.

The fifth floor will include group study areas designed specifically for graduate students with assignable and lockable study carrels. There will also be a faculty collaborative research center in the library to accommodate teams of professors working together on research projects.

Abundant quiet areas, such as the 24-hour study space, will be located on the first floor of the western-most part of the building.

The new and improved Fenwick will also feature a café, Argo Tea. According to Fenwick Focus, an online construction update website, the Argo Tea Company will begin installing the café at the end of October and will be open for business in January. The addition was supposed to feature a 24-hour café, but it is currently unclear whether or not the café study space will be open all day.

Xi Chen, a junior from the China 1+2+1 program, is excited to make use of the library’s new additions. “I hope to see a lot more electronic equipment in the library, as long as the the additional parts are aesthetical,” Xi said. She is looking forward to making use of the addition before she returns to China next year.

Construction began in 2012 and has been moving along steadily for almost three years. Iszard said that the project was not void of difficulties.

“Early on in the project, we ran across unforeseen conditions with buried utilities,” Iszard said. Though this postponed the project for a while, the project management team was ultimately able to make up for lost time.

According to Fenwick Focus, the new addition list is 80 pencent complete. Iszard and his team will be moving books into the addition starting in mid-November and continuing through December.

“We are constantly adding to our collection but are not specifically buying books as part of this project,” Iszard said. However, he stated there will be more books in the new library, as they are consolidating books into Fenwick from various other locations. The furniture installation, scheduled to be complete by mid-December, is now ongoing. The IT installation is mostly complete.

Senior communications major Kenia Zelaya said that although she does not study at Fenwick Library often, the new addition might change that.

“I don’t really go to the Fenwick Library, I mostly use the J.C. library [Gateway] and Innovation computers to do work,” Zelaya said. “But it [Fenwick] looks nice so I definitely want to check it out. I’m thinking and hoping there will be more space for students to study because the most popular spot [the Johnson Center] gets really occupied.”