Library Renovations reach halfway mark

By Gus Bode

Workers recently raised the roof of the rotunda at Morris Library, symbolically marking the halfway point of a three-year renovation plan that began in January 2006.

David Carlson, dean of library affairs, said all renovations in the $48 million project are on schedule to be completed by summer of 2009.

The third floor will be the next focal point, Carlson said, because it will be needed by the end of the year but has not progressed as much as other floors.

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“We will begin moving everything to the third, fourth and fifth floors at the end of this year,” Carlson said. “We’re hoping to have the transition done and be functional for spring semester so we can begin demolition and renovation on the first floor and basement.”

The renovation will bring several new features to the library, Carlson said.

A glass wall on the west side of the first, second and third floors is being installed to provide library goers with a view of campus that was nonexistent before the renovation, associate dean of library affairs Susan Logue said.

“One of the most exciting aspects of this renovation is that there are going to be fantastic views of Thompson Woods,” Logue said. “Everybody has seen the view from the north, but now they’ll be able to see the south, east and west as well.”

She said the fifth floor would offer views of Faner, Shryock and the Brush Towers through large windows.

Along with the new views of campus, the library will offer new places to view library resources.

The renovation will include more than 30 group study rooms, Carlson said. Many of these rooms will be available at any time, but others will function with a hotel key type of system to allow students to reserve rooms with audiovisual equipment.

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Student Services will soon begin a search for a new services vendor, and a Starbucks-like facility in the new coffee commons at the library will be included in that contract, Carlson said.

But all construction is still ongoing, Carlson said, and is not scheduled for completion until June 2009.

Carlson said the second floor houses about 80 percent of the offices and will be a complicated floor to finish. Structural work has been done, but the floor has otherwise remained untouched, he said.

He said there is not yet money for the renovation of floors six and seven, but discussions continue to find money to have those floors renovated as well. He said these must be completed within two to three years of the current renovations to house growth of the library’s collection.

Construction has closed all but the south entrance to the library, which is only accessible through a plywood tunnel intended to protect passers-by from falling debris.

Library attendance has decreased by about 50 percent since the beginning of the renovation, but Carlson and Logue said the decrease was also due in large part to the increased use of Internet databases available through the library’s Web site.

Brandy Oxford can be reached at 536-3311 ext. 255 or [email protected]

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