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BC Libraries in Review, Part 2: O’Neill Library

O’Neill Library can be described as a cacophony of noises, people angrily waiting in lines for the printers, and a bunch of books, all housed in a concrete block in the middle of campus. But O’Neill is more than that, it has spunk and chutzpah. Yea, it has its own style. Here we go.

photo (3)O’Neill Library opened in 1984, and was named after Tip O’Neill, a prominent Speaker of the House, congressman from Massachusetts, and BC alumnus. I admire the fact that BC’s main library is named after such an important politician, and that it contains an exhibit dedicated to him on O’Neill 2. It’s free, so check it out and see why he was such an important deal broker in American politics.

However, I have several qualms with O’Neill (the library, not the person.) First off, O’Neill 3, the main floor, is way too busy for people who like a serene study space. The long wooden tables have the opposite effect of the tables in Bapst: they encourage conversation, and they are placed too close together. I could see myself focusing at those tables for a maximum of one minute. The public computer cubicles appear a bit outdated, the newspaper and magazine area could use some new shelving, and the printer lines are insane at times.

Since the closing of the CTRC, there has been a pronounced increase in students who go to O’Neill 3 to print out their study guides, tests and papers. In addition, the carpet is outdated, and there is only one bathroom for all of O’Neill 3, which has the most usage out of the five floors. I believe the only positives are the nice employees at the information/circulation desks and the courtesy charging stations, which offer free charging for iPhones (4th and 5th editions) and Androids.

O’Neill 4 is a slight improvement over O’Neill 3. There are cubicles that look out the windows onto part of BC’s middle and lower campuses, and there are some chairs for the weary studiers to pass out on. However, the rugs are outdated, the cubicles are bulky and some do not offer outlets. While conf spacethe cubicles offer more original phrases scrawled on them than the short blurbs on Twitter, they are outdated and need to go. Also the furniture looks like it’s been here for decades. O’Neill 4 does have study rooms, so that helps me forgive it for being old and antiquated.

Next, O’Neill 5 is an improvement over O’Neill 4, but only by a little bit. (There are public bathrooms for both floors, but they are rough and pretty dated. The water fountains look a bit grimy too.) Yet, a stunning view of the Boston skyline and the surrounding part of the city saves the fifth floor. In addition, O’Neill 5 has study rooms and provides one of the best study environments in O’Neill.

Finally, O’Neill 1 and 2 make me think that Boston College is working hard to improve the library. For example, O’Neill 1 has an excellent study room with walls serving as whiteboards and plenty of space to bicker over a group project. In addition, O’Neill 1 has a Seattle’s Best Coffee vending machine (with lids! Yay! No burns!)

And overall, the layout of O’Neil 1 is spacious but every area of the floor is utilized well. There photo (2)are beautiful tables that have convenient charging outlets, and the lounge furniture and booths add a touch of class and comfort to overall image of O’Neill 1. A final striking feature of O’Neill 1 is the small art gallery in the room next to the study room. One can see about twenty pieces of art on dark corkboards; the art is placed there on a rotating basis.

As for O’Neill 2, I have felt like I ignored it my freshman year – and I did. (Save for checking out one DVD before getting my Netflix account, I barely went there.) Now, it appears that Boston College worked hard over the summer to dramatically improve O’Neill 2. For example, there is now a new information service desk near the Connors Family Learning Center, along with a new entryway/door for easier access to the CFLC.

However, some students have complained about the loss of the CTRC – which served as a computer lounge where students could do work and get computer help. The CTRC is now the Center for Teaching Excellence, and mainly for teachers, but students can get help starting websites and assistance with iClickers if they choose to do so. While some think that O’Neill lost printers with the closing of the CTRC, that is not the case. The printers got relocated to different floors of the library.

photoWhat also sparks my interest is the new Digital Studio in O’Neill 205. It looks incredible, and like O’Neill 1, the space is used efficiently and the new technology looks beautiful. There is a 3-D printer, art and design-centric media, audio recording equipment and more. When I asked a student working at the front desk if the Digital Studio has been busy so far, he said, “People are still figuring it out. There is definitely a pickup after 3:00 on weekdays.” The Digital Studio looks promising, and all it needs is s sign on O’Neill 3 telling students about the new technology there.

In short, despite its flaws, O’Neill Library is a useful and needed library. It is also the most accessible from all parts of campus, and is the only library with its own plaza. O’Neill Plaza is a gem on Middle Campus, though the late Fr. Neenan said in an Agape Latte talk last semester that it should be called “Neenan Plaza.” (God bless Fr. Neenan.)

I think O’Neill has a lot of potential to become a favorite of all students, but is not exactly postcard-worthy. With an appropriate improvement plan, O’Neill could flourish. That being said, O’Neill Library looks like it has a good future ahead of it. I rate O’Neill Library an 8.3 out of 10.

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