Marston Science Library’s fourth and fifth floors are trading out furniture from the library’s 1987 opening to adapt to students’ ever-evolving needs.
Marston closed its two top floors and began renovations Wednesday.
Librarians and faculty from the Department of Interior Design did a formal study for the Association for Research Libraries from 2020 to May 2022 to plan out what resources students wanted on the highest floors.
The data collection included three phases: an online survey of UF students, a spatial analysis of all five floors and three focus groups of undergraduates, graduate students and library employees. The spatial analysis provided documentation of the way students used the library space before the renovation and prior to COVID-19.
More than 90% percent of the project consists of adding furniture to repurpose the spaces for current students, Smathers Libraries Senior Associate Dean Patrick Reakes said.
“The [furniture] was old and raggedy,” he said. “People want to sit at a table and plug in two or three devices — until we upgrade, we don't have that.”
Faculty thought the Summer semester, with fewer students roaming the library, was the ideal time to renovate.
Shehzad Shah, a 19-year-old UF computer science junior, went to Marston’s highest floors three times a week during the Fall and Spring semesters to work on assignments and internship applications.
Shah said every other seat was taken during finals week in Spring semester and slanted desks made it difficult for him to put his laptop down.
“The desks are kind of wonky,” he said. “And it was kind of hard to reach an outlet a lot of the time.”
Valrie Minson, Marston’s 47-year-old assistant dean of assessment and student engagement and chairperson, said the renovation will add a variety of furniture and outlets to the spaces.
The Construction Project Planning and Approval Executive Committee approved the renovation in April, but Marston faculty began the plans for the fourth floor at the end of 2019 and fifth floor in January 2022, Reakes said. The first floor was renovated in 2014; the second and third saw upgrades the following four years.
Marston faculty hope to have the renovations completed prior to Fall semester, but supply issues may set back the project — furniture could arrive as late as November.
For now, a large whiteboard with a simple message now greets students as they enter.
Marston is getting an upgrade!
Anushka Dakshit is a fourth-year journalism and women’s studies major and the general reporter on the University desk of The Alligator. She started out as an arts and culture reporter at The Avenue and hopes to pursue arts and culture reporting and print magazine journalism in her career. Along with The Alligator, she is one of the Print Editorial Directors of Rowdy Magazine. In her free time, she likes to listen to old Bollywood music, read and obsess over other writers’ processes whenever she has no idea what she’s doing (which is often).