Students study and slumber in newly renovated Hillman Library


Maria Heines | Staff Photographer

Students study in the renovated fourth floor of Hillman Library.

By Noah Manalo, Staff Writer

Whether this is a student’s first month ever at Pitt or the seventh or eighth time they’re starting a new semester, they’re going to need a comfortable venue to study. Hillman Library is always a popular spot to crack open a textbook — but returning students may notice it’s changed a bit in the months since spring finals.

Those entering the library now will notice signs alerting visitors about the recently renovated fourth floor. The space, which reopened in August after being closed since May 15, now sports 11 technology-enabled group study rooms, a computer bar with granite countertops, a reading nook and individual study pods, to name a few new amenities.

The renovation is part of the 50-year-old Hillman Library’s ongoing makeover, a five-year plan first announced in 2016. According to University spokesman Joseph Miksch, the completed renovations cost $22.4 million — $7 million less than the original estimations.

Jeff Wisniewski, the director of communications and web services at Pitt’s library, said student reactions to the project have been positive.

“The fourth floor has been absolutely transformed,” Wisniewski said. “We are really thankful for the input on the renovations we’ve gotten from students and the Pitt community as a whole, and are also grateful for everyone’s patience in dealing with the noise and the disruption.”

Yogindra Raghav, a senior studying computational biology, praised the practicality and spaciousness of the renovated area.

“They’ve put in a lot of detail into everything, like certain useful functionality that I would have never imagined,” she said, “nice granite countertops and most importantly, space, unlike any of the other floors.”

Alicia Hu, a senior studying electrical engineering, likewise enjoyed the increase in space — hopefully, it will make it easier for her to find a place to study.

“One of the issues before, and the thing that I don’t know about right now is like around finals week, and even midterms, it got really crowded,” she said. “I had to like find these really random spots.”

The third floor is next in line for a Hillman transformation. It’s expected to close in spring 2019 and remain closed for one year. Once reopened, the floor will house an expanded archives and special collections department with a classroom as well as about a dozen additional group study spaces, according to Wisniewski. Hillman is also partnering with the Center for Creativity to create a space focusing specifically on textual works.

“The floor will house an expanded archives and special collections department with classroom, around a dozen addition group study spaces and a space for making centered on text and its many forms with our partner the Center for Creativity,” Wisniewski said.

Lauren Lotka, a junior studying molecular biology, was excited when she heard that her primary study location was being renovated — despite her love for the building, she was starting to get sick of studying in the same places after two years.

“So this was really cool that they had [the renovations] ready for fall semester, and I think [the library’s] going to be really nice for people to study in,” Lotka said. “These smaller group tables I think are really nice, especially the newer, individual studying spaces.”

Though in the middle of long-term renovations, Hillman remains a steady spot for studying  — one that, thanks to the fourth floor renovations, can now double as a creative center or a place to take a nap.