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Renovations at McLennan-Redpath Library continue

Construction at the McLennan-Redpath Library­—initially planned to conclude on Nov. 15—is now scheduled to continue until the first week of December. The project, which includes resurfacing the terrace and restructuring the support walls of the library complex, prevents students from accessing the building via the Redpath entrance.

According to the McGill website, a complete overhaul of the main Redpath entrance is planned, including the removal of the interior staircase leading down to the food court and improvements to the alternate staircase, which is adjacent to the group study area on the ground floor of Redpath Library.

The pedestrian terrace that is currently under construction was built in 1952. According to Dan Doran, Project Manager in University Services, the aging terrace has been sinking over the past 61 years into the occupied spaces below, including the newly renovated Cyberthèque study area.

“Smaller projects had been undertaken to attempt to fix these leaks, but it was conclusively determined in 2007 that a complete renovation of the terrace was required to prevent further degradation and permanently resolve the water infiltration problems in the library,” he said.

Doran said that the project was scheduled in three phases, each of which was planned for the summers and falls of 2011, 2012, and 2013. During construction, library access has only been available through the McLennan Library Building entrance. The completion date was pushed back by three weeks due to a two-week long construction worker strike in June, and an additional week due to the re-mobilization and coordination of construction workers following the strike.

The renovations have affected McGill students in various ways, although the Redpath Cafeteria remains open. Arts students face particular inconveniences as a result of the construction, since McLennan-Redpath is the main social sciences and humanities library.

“The biggest impacts that the renovations have on me are the restricted access to McTavish—which can be fixed by walking up the stairs by Leacock—and the fact that I do not particularly like […] that a giant hole has been made over there just weeks before parents’ weekend,” Irina Silver Frankel, U2 arts, said. “It would be nice if the construction could be done by then so that my parents [could] see a beautiful campus and not [one that is] torn-apart.”

In addition to construction this semester, more renovations are planned for Redpath in 2014.

“Once this phase is completed, McGill will explore additional repairs required on the façade of the Redpath library that include windows and some masonry elements,” Doran said. “While no firm date has been set for these future repairs, we are hoping to have this project’s construction underway in the summer of 2014.”

Some students have also expressed concern that the budget cuts and a lack of resources make renovations impractical.

“The renovations seem a little extravagant when McGill has been compromising student learning by cutting back on courses and professors,” Nicholle Savoie, U3 arts, said.

“I think it’s good that McGill is constantly being modernized and improved,” Frankel said. “However, with all the budget cuts that McGill is facing, I’m not sure that students care as much about these renovations when McGill could not even afford to keep the libraries open as much as they did last year.”

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