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The Daily Tar Heel

Makeover to Close Undergrad

Although studying might not be UNC students' favorite pastime, the Undergraduate Library provides many with a cozy setting to deal with this necessary evil.

But the Undergrad won't be a homework haven for much longer.

Starting Dec. 19 at 5 p.m., the Undergrad will be closing its doors for a round of extensive renovations that will not be completed until nearly the end of 2002.

"We've been planning for these renovations since 1995," said Diane Strauss, associate University librarian for public services. "The process has had its fits and starts, but it is finally happening."

Renovations will include a new hands-on classroom for instruction on using the Internet to do research as well as group study rooms.

Academic Technology & Networks will also relocate its services from the basement of Wilson Library to a lower level of the Undergrad.

A new reserves reading area will allow students to access reserves materials, with a variety of texts available online. A new study lounge for students also will be included in the facility's floorplan.

Officials are welcoming the construction because renovation proposals for the library have been in the works since 1998. Originally submitted to the N.C. legislature as a capital improvement proposal, plans were not approved until the following year.

Plans then were stalled by the statewide funding needs after Hurricane Floyd devastated eastern North Carolina in September 1999. All capital improvement projects not already under way were put on hold until further funds became available.

But the improvements can now go forward after the recent passing of the $3.1 billion higher education bond referendum, which will provide $9.8 million for the Undergrad renovations. "The Undergrad is in dire need of renovation. If this bond hadn't passed, we would have been in dire straits," Strauss said.

She said the library also will ask for $5 million in private funds. "If we are successful (in raising the private funds), some of the money will go into an endowment, and the rest will be invested in new furniture for the building," Strauss said.

Due to the current condition of the Undergrad, plans call for a complete overhaul of the existing structure - all that will remain standing are its walls.

Once the building is gutted, it is estimated that construction will take about 18 months to complete.

Between Dec. 20 and Jan. 9, all Undergrad services will come to a halt and will not resume until after Jan. 9, when most will continue in temporary locations such as Davis Library and the Wilson Library annex.

Many students expressed disbelief or displeasure with the idea of losing one of their favorite study spots.

"I had no idea," said Emily Jacobs, a junior English major from Fayetteville, in reaction to the library's closing. "I am sad, since I will have graduated by the time it reopens."

But Jacobs said she is glad UNC is looking to the future and making changes. "In the long run, however, I am all for improving the school. (Davis) won't be as comfortable, but as a Carolina grad, I will be proud of our new state-of-the-art facility."

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