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UVA Pilot Program Aims to Get Students to Utilize the Rotunda - NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

UVA Pilot Program Aims to Get Students to Utilize the Rotunda

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Extended hours at the Rotunda at UVA Extended hours at the Rotunda at UVA

Students rarely study in the University of Virginia's oldest library, the Rotunda. Now, the administration is making some changes to bring students closer to the heart of Thomas Jefferson's "academical village."

Many students currently view the Rotunda as a tourist attraction or a museum, but the university wants to change that perception - and make the Rotunda the active part of student life Jefferson wanted it to be.

Fourth-year student Jerrod Travlee has studied in the Rotunda - but he's one of few.

"I think it's kind of like a hidden secret, but people should definitely do it before they graduate," said Travlee.

The Rotunda served as UVA's main library from the time it was completed in 1826 until the construction of Alderman Library more than 100 years later - now its chairs are mostly empty.

"I think students just think of the Rotunda as more of a museum and we want to change that perception and make it more accessible to everyone," said Nargis Cross, assistant to the president.

This year, UVA is launching a pilot program to bring students into the Rotunda. Small classes for first-year students will meet in the lower west oval room, and the dome room will host Rotunda dinners for first-year students every Wednesday night.

"If you can get a student in here during their first year, they're more likely to come back," said Cross.

Sunday through Thursday, students will be able to swipe into the Rotunda to study after normal business hours - just like any other library.

"The Rotunda is the centerpiece, the heart of the grounds, the centerpiece of the university, so it's really important to get students in here I think to use the building. It's for them," said Cross.

Travlee says the changes will encourage more students choose to escape the crowds at other libraries and take advantage of the chance to study in a world heritage site.

"I think people will see it as like the normal attraction, but also a place where we can really engage with the university, on a personal level," said Travlee.

These changes are a part of a year-long pilot program.

University staff says the building will close partially or completely for renovation starting in May - so this is year could be the last chance for students to enjoy this study space before 2016. 

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