Library moves forward while awaiting capital funds

By Gus Bode

As Illinois Gov. Pat Quinn mulls a $17.6 million windfall to Morris Library construction through a capital bill, library administrators are working to improve the library with the resources they have.

Summer improvements to the library – which has been under a massive renovation since January 2005 – include roof repairs, sound system installation and additions to the north plaza, including outdoor furniture delivered Tuesday, said Susan Tulis, associate dean of Information Services. As workers make these improvements, Tulis said officials are paying close attention to the bill that would help finance the extensive finishes to the sixth and seventh floors.

‘It would be nice for us to say the building is done and not have to say two years down the road, ‘How are we going to come up with the money and do X, Y and Z?” she said.


Eight to 10 patio tables with four chairs each were delivered Tuesday and will be bolted into the concrete of the north plaza by mid-June, Tulis said. The large flowing water feature on the plaza, which has been delayed because of drainage and pumping problems, should be finished about the same time, she said.

Leaks in the roof that have caused minor damage on the third floor should be repaired by the end of June, she said.

The library’s auditorium has hosted a number of events despite lacking a sound system. Tulis said the system should be operational by mid-June.

These changes, plus the installation of a sculpture on the north plaza, will help provide a better library atmosphere, Library Affairs Dean David Carlson said.

‘Those will be three very visible things that will be different, but I’m hopeful that the building will just be a little more settled in and a little more operational,’ Carlson said.

Stefanie Melliere, a junior from Red Bud studying psychology, said the outdoor additions would not coax students indoors. Instead, she said additional study space would be helpful.

‘It seems like there’s not as much desk space as there should be (inside),’ Melliere said. ‘I pretty much just go there to study, to have someplace quiet. It helps me a lot just to get out of my apartment.’


The library’s vacant basement is meant to hold the majority of the books currently housed at McLafferty Annex, but it is still without the shelving necessary to hold them.

‘There are lots of ways to get the books over here, but the big problem is we have no shelves to put the books on,’ Tulis said. ‘Unfortunately, that piece of the puzzle gets missed.’

Tulis said moving the books back would cost roughly $1.5 million, though only about a third of the cost actually deals with the transportation of the books. More than $1 million would go toward shelving, Tulis said.

‘I didn’t know about that. That’s extreme,’ Melliere said. ‘I wish they’d get the books back in there, but I could totally understand the money issue with the shelving.’

Tulis said some shelves are available on the upper floors but are being saved as expansion space for subscriptions and books that will be purchased within the next two years.

The shelves previously used in Morris were either recycled or given away to other libraries, Tulis said.

‘They were in pretty bad shape,’ Tulis said. ‘Those were standard shelving and what we need to put in the basement is compressed shelving ‘-‘- moveable shelving ‘-‘- like what’s out in McLafferty.’

With compressed shelving, 20 aisles of walk space and 20 aisles of books become two or three aisles of walk space and 20 aisles of books, Carlson said.

‘We estimate that we get about a 2.5 times increase in storage capacity, so for all of the books in McLafferty to fit in the basement, they must go on compressed shelving or they just won’t fit,’ Carlson said.

He said if someone needed a book that was in a shelf behind other shelves, they could access it with the push of a button.

Tulis said moving the shelves back to Morris and reassembling them would cost more than purchasing new ones. The shelves would no longer be under warranty by the time the move would occur, she said.

Hours at the library will be altered for summer semester, but the deliveries from McLafferty Annex will not.

The library has shortened operation hours over the intersession, but add another hour starting June 14 for the summer semester, Tulis said. The three delivery times for books from McLafferty will remain the same.

‘For us, it’s just another semester,’ she said.

Sean McGahan contributed to this report.