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Senior class gift to help fund Bookworms Café expansion

by Suzanne Zack - May 1, 2006

One of the most popular and often most crowded places to study and socialize on campus will soon have more breathing room.

Bookworms Café at the Homer Babbidge Library is a popular place for students to meet, eat, and study.
Bookworms Café at the Homer Babbidge Library is a popular place for students to meet, eat, and study.
Photo by Alex Bothell

This year’s senior class has earmarked that its graduation gift be used toward the expansion and renovation of Bookworms Café in Homer Babbidge Library.

“Due to its popularity, Bookworms is currently of insufficient size to adequately accommodate students,” says Sarah Baldwin, senior class gift chairperson.

“Our goal is to provide more space for students in an environment conducive to learning. Bookworms is a good balance, because it serves both social and educational purposes.”

Under the proposed plan, the north wall of the facility will be extended 25 feet creating 625 square feet of additional space.

In addition, coffee shop-style counter seating will be installed along the entire west wall, and tables for group meetings will be added.

The expansion is expected to begin this summer and be completed by October.

So far, the class has raised more than $18,000 toward its $20,000 goal.

The Library will contribute the remaining funds needed for the work.

According to David Avery, facilities librarian, the facility’s popularity is not only constrained by its limited space, but by the current seating, which does not accommodate either single individuals who wish to study or eat alone, or large groups of people.

The installation of a counter and larger tables will alleviate that problem, he says.

“We’re working with Facilities to identify contractors right now,” Avery adds.

Since its opening in 1998, Bookworms Café has attracted students as a place not only to eat, but one where they could engage in group study and social activity.

In the years since then, traffic there has increased considerably, often rendering the space inadequate for the demand. In response to that need, in 2004-05, the library purchased additional furniture for the west entrance, west alcove, and the area adjacent to the north exhibit space to provide an overflow space, which has found a ready audience.

In the fall, Baldwin e-mailed all seniors asking them to join the volunteer-based senior class gift committee.

Following a series of meetings, the group decided to focus their fundraising efforts on Bookworms.

Baldwin says their decision was aided by the Undergraduate Student Government, which had surveyed students and found a strong interest in expansion of the facility.

Previous graduating classes have designated that their gifts be used for scholarships.

Baldwin said her classmates considered following suit, but the members of the committee felt a tangible gift would be more appealing to the senior class.

“I hope that our senior class gift will improve UConn,” says Baldwin, “and leave a lasting impression of the Class of 2006 for the UConn community in years to come.”

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