Cameron Pollack / Sun Photography Editor

Uris Library's Cocktail Lounge is sporting new furniture as part of a broader effort to make the study space more accessible.

February 15, 2018

Students React to New Furniture at Uris Library Cocktail Lounge: ‘What are We? IKEA?’

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Whether there for casual studying, catching a view of the slope at sunset or pulling an all-nighter and watching the sunrise, students in the Uris Library Cocktail Lounge have recently noticed that many of the large, green chairs have been replaced by an assortment of new furniture.

This furniture is being changed as part of a broader effort to update the lounge and turn it into a more “accessible” study space, according to librarians Wendy Wilcox and Sara Wright.

Wright, head of learning, spaces and technology at Mann Library, was part of the effort to update Mann and said that they are planning a similar process in Uris this semester.

Currently, they are testing out a variety of different furniture options and are simultaneously taking feedback from students before making final purchase decisions, which Wright said is important so that the people who actually use the space can provide their input.

Students can write their opinions of the specific furniture pieces on large posters hung up on the cocktail lounge wall. The feedback on the posters has been both positive and negative, ranging from “looks different, and I’m impressed with the design” to “ew! What are we? IKEA? kindergarten? JAIL?”

Next week, Wilcox and Wright will review the posters and conduct interviews with students. The plan is to implement the changes in the entire space by late summer or early fall, Wright said.

In particular, Wilcox said the renovation is being undertaken now to address the deferred maintenance needed by updating tired and worn-out furniture. They also hope to transform the area into a more accessible, 24/7 study zone.

“Our strongest emphasis is we actually want to improve accessibility to that space, we want to convert it to a true 24/7 space,” Wilcox, access services librarian for Olin and Uris Libraries, told The Sun.“There are 24 hour spaces that are open in ILR for ILR students and Mann is for CALS, but this space is for any Cornell student to use, so that’s a priority for us.”

“There’s this tension between wanting comfortable furniture and maybe not wanting super comfortable furniture in order to stay awake,” Wilcox joked.

Although this project focuses specifically on the Cocktail Lounge, Wilcox and Wright said that it may be a starting point for updating other parts of the library.

“I think this project will sort of kick things off in a way and start staff down that path of thinking about other spaces in the library that might be ready or have been ready for … a renovation and we just haven’t been able to do it yet,” Wright said.

“[For] A. D. White Hall, we really have to respect the history of that space, so we’re much more limited in the furnishings we can be able to look at,” she added. “But in the cocktail lounge we have flexibility in doing this and figure out what works best for people.”