Morris walls come crashing down

By Gus Bode

David Carlson is rejoicing as Morris Library walls crumble.

Construction continues to progress after the semi-grand opening in March and is expected to be done by the end of August, said Carlson, dean of Library Affairs. The Morris Library renovation, originally estimated to cost $48 million, is three months behind schedule and $16 million over budget. Despite the setbacks, Carlson said bits and pieces of the library are coming together.

Krystal Ross, a junior from Peoria studying child and family services, said she’s ecstatic about the construction nearing the end.


“I am hoping that this time, they are serious when they say it’s going to be done,” Ross said. “A lot of the students haven’t seen exactly what’s going to happen on the other floors, but as a student worker I have and it’s going to be great.”

Most of the construction has been going on in spaces closed off to the public. The first floor had walls demolished, plumbing inserted and ceiling structures installed.

The only advance of the continued construction students can see is the red rubberized tiling that covers the staircases. The tiling replaces gray cement that used to cover the stairs.

“Slowly but surely, you’ll start to notice the little things that will just start to pop up and be more readily available to you,” Ross said.

Some of the improvements include the availability of guest computers and the touch-up trim painting throughout the building, she said.

One of the advancements is the discovery of how to fix the minor leaks that have plagued the library. Part of the problem was that the metal plates on the tower of the building were not installed correctly.

“I don’t want to minimize (the leaks) because if they had continued over a period of time, they would have been very serious. But in terms of what we’ve been through, they were miniscule,” Carlson said.


Ross said the addition of couches and other furniture would make the library a great resource for students.

Orders for three different types of furniture have reached various stages, but some have been received by contractors and will be in place over the summer, Carlson said.

Work on the “Wings of Knowledge” sculpture for the front entrance lobby began a few weeks ago, Carlson said. The sculpture is expected to take four to six weeks before installation.

Larry Dietz, vice chancellor for student affairs, and Lori Stettler, director of the Student Center, are scheduled to select the vendor for the library’s coffee commons today, Carlson said. Chartwells and Sodexo are bidding for the student dining plan, which would include the library’s coffee vendor. Which of the two received the bid will be announced on Tuesday, Stettler said.

Library staff members are celebrating the project’s lack of delays recently, Carlson said.

“That’s the big thing for us, that late August is holding,” Carlson said.

There will still be minor things to finish after the opening in August, but Morris would belong to the university, Carlson said.

September is the goal for the actual move-in. Government documents and special collections will be the only materials shifted from McLafferty to Morris, Carlson said. He said the university is avoiding the $1.5 million that particular move would cost.

The biggest improvement since spring break, Carlson said, was the return of the students.

“We’ve really been without a library for three years. I was worried people forgot what it was all about,” Carlson said.

Lindsey Smith can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 255 or [email protected].