April 29, 2011

Constructive criticism

With Mansueto Library, the University mismanaged a golden marketing opportunity

As the month comes to a close, the Mansueto Library gets further and further from its alleged mid-April soft opening date. The Library certainly isn’t a stranger to missed deadlines–it was originally scheduled to open at the beginning of the school year, was pushed back to winter, and again stalled until spring–but there have been no updates regarding its new opening. If it is indeed opening in the near future, the University has failed to notify students and the community—the library website has no concrete information regarding an official opening date. This seeming apathy towards the Mansueto’s inauguration is hard to explain, given not only how much the increased construction time has cost, but also the importance the University has placed on the library itself.

For years, students have been told that they would witness Mansueto’s opening in the fall of 2010, while its glass dome is a staple of current prospective student tours. Add this to the extensive publicity campaign in the Regenstein Library, which showcases blueprints, timelines, and projected storage facts, and it’s clear that the library was designed to command a major presence on campus. It’s certainly deserving of this attention: The fully automated underground storage and retrieval system is groundbreaking, and the building itself is visually stunning. However, as multiple completion dates have come and gone, interest in the library has only waned. Rather than for any tangible contributions to student life, the construction site is known for its disarray in the midst of an otherwise well-groomed campus and the inconvenience it causes when walking down Ellis.

If Mansueto opens soon, it’s unlikely that the University will be able to stage an opening ceremony appropriate to the hype. Safety fences surround the plot, landscaping is nonexistent, and construction equipment still clogs the area. While these factors wouldn’t detract from the library’s usability, they certainly do not make for a grand inauguration. Even if completion has been postponed due to these unfinished parts, there has been no coherent statement made regarding a delay. For all the time the University spends publicizing the image of this project, they’re not spending the appropriate time making it a usable student space.

Given the slew of recent construction projects on campus, namely the Logan Arts Center, this oversight should serve as a lesson in responsible publicity. The Arts Center, as well as the other myriad projects on campus, cannot afford to suffer the same construction delays and disorganized promotion as Mansueto. The new dome is by no means a lost cause—once finished, it will surely be a popular attraction. The University simply needs to turn the page on unprofessional publicity tactics and misleading communication with the student body, especially when regarding major campus projects.

The Editorial Board consists of the Editor-in-Chief, Viewpoints Editors, and an additional editorial board member.