May 20, 2022

Renovation and Reinvention at MIT Libraries

A new article from The Tech (school paper at MIT) opens with details about the ongoing renovations to the Barker Library Reading Room and then takes a look at the long-term aspirations of the MIT Libraries.

The new reading room will have a ring of LED lights about halfway down from the dome, a series of fluorescent lights behind fogged acrylic panels, and 16 recessed lights just under the dome, and the newly restored oculus. In restoring the skylight of the dome, Shawmut has kept the original steelwork but replicated the small glass blocks that allow light to stream through. They are also adding a sloped protective lid on the dome intended to deter hackers and prevent leaks.

In addition to improving the lighting, Shawmut is upgrading the sound masking system by installing advanced acoustic panels. Another key part of the renovation is the construction of bathrooms right outside the reading room. The furniture in the reading room will remain the same. Upon its reopening in February 2013, the reading room will become a 24-hour accessible space with a seating capacity of about 120 students.

The article continues with comments about future plans from the Director of MIT Libraries, Ann Wolpert and others.

The administration of the libraries has begun to construct a set of new long-term aspirations. They hope to take advantage of under-utilized spaces, such as the courtyard by Hayden Library, in an effort to encourage a collaborative and digital learning environment. According to Wolpert, “the vision is, fundamentally, to continue to take an amazing asset that MIT has built over the last 150 years … building them into the curriculum, helping students understand how to use these resources so they can continue to be successful once they leave MIT and finding the kinds of spaces that students need to study and work.”

Read the Complete Article

See Also: Video: Reinventing the Research Library: The MIT Libraries in the 21st Century

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.