One Morris Library construction phase has ended, and another has begun.
The library has completed the book transfer from off-campus storage sites into the library basement. Susan Tulis, associate dean of library affairs, said this is the first time in nearly eight years the books are back inside the building and the basement will be open to the public Tuesday.
With the basement’s completion, library administration is focused on sixth and seventh floor finalizations.
Construction completion was scheduled for November, but Tulis said the project was delayed because of limited funds.
“The last book was put on the shelf on Monday,” she said.
Though the basement may be cosmetically unfinished, she said the public will still have access.Furniture still needs to be moved, she said, and bookshelves still need to be labeled.
“We might not have everything set in place, but that’s when I’m taking down the signs that say ‘staff only,’” she said.
A roughly $56.7 million student fee-funded Morris Library renovation project began in 2005 to update the building’s facade, elevators, ventilation and storage space, Tulis said. Many books were stored in the McLafferty Annex as well as other off- campus sites during the renovation. .
Electronic bookcases were installed in the basement to help with storage space, Tulis said. These bookcases run along rails installed in the floor and can close together when not in use, which allows maximum storage in minimal space, she said. The cases also have sensors installed at both shelf ends and pads underneath that can be kicked, which would prevent bookcase from closing while patrons browse the aisle, she said.
Tulis said she was unsure how the project would turn out at first.
“I was skeptical in the beginning that we would be able to do it in the amount of time that was estimated,” she said. “We’re pretty much on schedule.”
Despite the wait for the material, Tulis said she is glad the books have returned to the library, and she looks forward to future building projects.
After the library re-opened April 16, 2009, students and staff waited for the completed sixth and seventh floors.
Anne Moore, dean of library affairs, said sixth and seventh floor construction should begin in February. Sixth floor math labs, which would have desks equipped with touchscreen tables and student tablet connectivity, are further renovation projects, she said.
“This is probably the most advanced
and coherent approach to the lower- level math courses that I’ve heard of, and I’ve been involved in two other similar projects,” Moore said.
The seventh floor will house the Learning Support Services, and plans include a testing room that would have two check-in points where students place backpacks and coats to prevent cheating, Moore said. Classroom chairs and desks on both floors will have wheels to allow flexible classroom movement. Student work areas will also use large monitors, and each room will be available to anyone and won’t require reservations, she said.
Though project funding has been appropriated and the project should be completed within the next year, Moore said she didn’t know how much the project will cost.
Students are happy the books are back, but some have mixed opinions on construction duration.
Xochitl Romero, a senior from Cicero studying psychology, said she didn’t struggle to obtain books during construction.
“If anything, it’s just trouble with the reserves but that’s not a library
issue,” she said. “That’s a professor issue not having those books available for students,” she said.
While she is excited the books have returned and the basement is constructed, Romero said the move should have happened sooner.
“I feel like they should have put more effort into transferring the books to the library than building a new football stadium,” she said. “That’s one of my biggest issues with the school. Yeah, we have no money, but we build a new stadium. We should focus more on the books than the stadium.”
Abby Hilsabeck, a senior from Jacksonville studying anthropology, said she is happy the books are back because it was a hassle to access material. However, she said the university took too long to replace the books.
“For me, personally, when it comes to researching stuff, it’s really handy to have it as quick as possible, especially when you have multiple papers going on and deadlines,” she said.