By Babongile Zulu
Pic: Simone Armer
It all started on the first day of fourth term; the workers and the machines moved in and construction started. The noise soon began, affecting all the residences and departments in the general vicinity of the library.
The construction of the new library building is to continue right on through Swot week and exams, making studying a potentially nightmarish affair for all nearby residents. Delaying the building process, however, would cost the university approximately R1-million a month, which would have to be covered by raising student fees. The R1-million would include having to pay the construction company’s worker’s wages while the building is put on hold.
All questions and queries about the development of the library are being directed to the Dean of Students’ office. “The University has opted to forge ahead with construction, noting that the long-term benefit to students of an extended, improved library outweighs the temporary disruption,” says Larissa Klazinga, Student Services Officer for the University. To compensate for the noise and disruption caused by the machinery, Dean of Students, Vivian de Klerk, is purchasing earplugs for all students affected by the noise. These are to be delivered to nearby residences within the next few days.A Library Neighbours Forum has been set up in collaboration with the library and the surrounding residences and departments. This forum had its first meeting on 27 August to warn those concerned about possible disruptions. This meeting was attended by representatives from the Estates Division, the Facilities (lecture venues), Day Kaif, surrounding departments, and hall wardens. Also discussed was the use of residence common rooms as alternative study spaces. Thus far, the forum lacks student voices. However, Jeanne Berger, Head of Collections and Technical Services at the library, said that they are willing to have head students or any other representatives from house committees share their views.
Berger went on to explain that some hall wardens have already approached the library to borrow desks and chairs for setting up study spaces in common rooms. The library will only be in a position to do this once work begins on the existing building in 2009.
Meanwhile, many students are clearly finding it difficult to cope with the noise from the site. Hlompho Mngemane, a second year geology student, says that the drilling can be particularly disruptive during lectures. “I have practical exams in the [Geology] department; they must just be considerate of the noise levels,” she implores. Mngemane may not live in one of the residences which are close to the library, but she personally feels that earplugs are a bit impractical, saying, “Not everyone can learn with stuff in their ears!”
Although the extensions to the Rhodes library will surely be of great benefit to students in the future, the disruptions being caused by the building process may have a negative impact on the studies of students now. It seems that the only immediate solution for students affected by the noise is to hold thumbs and stuff their ears