April 4, 2006

Survey to decide new Regenstein chairs

Library regulars will soon find that the chairs they have sat on for years will be replaced. A survey underway in the Regenstein Library allows students, faculty, and other patrons to test chairs and help decide which model among three finalists will be distributed throughout the library come autumn quarter.

The library intends to have new models replace the 1,750 15-year-old gray chairs currently located at cubicles throughout the Reg.

“Many of the [current] chair seats were sagging, armrests were missing or frames were bent,” said Jim Vaughan, assistant director of Access and Facilities Services for the library and part of the search team for the new chair. “In addition, the library administered a survey, and we heard many negative comments about seating.”

Funds obtained from the University Capital Projects Committee will also replace 50 stools and will reupholster 125 existing club chairs. The project’s total cost is still being negotiated.

A small workgroup chaired by a project manager from the University Facilities Services chose the three finalists. After meeting with a furniture consultant and testing out numerous chairs, the group narrowed down contenders to the current list. All are made of welded steel, with styles similar in color but different in padding and arm rests.

The Procurement Section of the University Facilities Services expects to order the new chairs in early May. New seating should be ready at the start of autumn quarter.

Voters can find paper ballots near the “Ask a Librarian” desk as they enter the library on the first floor until April 7. The votes and comments will inform the workgroup in determining which chair to order.

The turnout has been high, Vaughan said, adding that he was “extremely pleased” at the level of interest.

“It’s one more indication…that users feel strongly about the library at Chicago,” he said.

First-year in the College Hannah McKenna had strong opinions about the chairs she tested.

“Style 1 is a ballerina’s worst nightmare, and the fabric on 3 is abhorrent,” she said. “But I liked number 2; it supports the natural curvature of your back. When so many people spend their life here, it’s good to know where you’re sitting is accommodated to you.”