Ground Floor Library Work Summer 2018

Currently denuded, the library’s first floor is being reimagined and refilled.

Part of the ground floor of the Mina Rees Library — specifically, the space running along our Fifth Avenue and 34th Street frontage — will be under construction over the summer as we develop more flexible use of the space, explore new flooring possibilities, and introduce the Object Library with a temporary display system. The first-floor renovation and the Object Library are conceived and led by Keith Wilson, Director of the Graduate Center’s Center for the Humanities. The Object Library “will offer material objects alongside books as starting points for knowledge. Somewhere between a traditional library and a sculpture gallery, this new space will feature select objects displayed alongside curated books on core research themes,” explains Wilson.

We invite library users to make heavier use of the dissertation room and two other levels of the library while construction is underway. Study space on the ground floor along Fifth Avenue and 34th Street will not be usable from 06/25 through 08/24, but will re-open on 08/27 to coincide with the new academic year.

Throughout this time, library services (circulation, reserve, interlibrary loan) will be running as usual on the first floor, with reference service on the 2nd floor, but it will not be possible to sit and study in the ground floor space fronting Fifth Avenue. There may be a complete library closure for a short period in early August, if flooring work encroaches on the ground floor access route or if the level of dust or fumes would warrant it. We will offer advance notice of any closure and will be working to keep it to an absolute minimum.

The work involves an exploratory floor investigation, electrical work, the removal of existing furniture and artworks, and the installation of new and existing furniture and artworks in preparation for the opening of the academic year 2018/19. Beginning with a call for objects, the Open Library project will involve the accumulation of things in an open display system, which takes a form reminiscent of the days in calendar months. Tour the online calendar of a previous iteration of this project, Things (2010), in London’s Wellcome Collection.

With this step, we seek to make our library space more inviting and more encouraging of creative thinking. We appreciate your patience as our staff work hard to complete all work during the summer.  This is part of an ongoing effort to improve the spaces where we think, write, study, imagine, and plan.

UPDATE August 29, 2018: Installation of the Object Library is only a week behind schedule due to delays in customs clearance for the exhibit floor and scaffolding pieces. Study tables will be reintroduced shortly, making the library 1st floor friendlier for study. Construction will continue under the direction of Keith Wilson, Professor of Sculpture and Director of the Center for the Humanities, who will endeavor to complete his work with as little as possible disturbance to library users.

About the Author

Prof. Polly Thistlethwaite is CUNY's Interim University Dean for Library Services.