Library move begins in earnest

The move back into the Business and General Studies Building is completed, and the planning of the next major construction project: renovation of the library, is underway. Although there is some minor structural repair work that must be performed to correct a settling floor underneath the Learning Assistance Program offices, the majority of the work is being done to increase the functional and scalable potentials of the building, so it can better accommodate current needs and future growth. According to Kevin O’Connor, Dean of Liberal Arts and Learning Resources and the individual primarily responsible for shepherding the project through its various stages, the actual transfer of the library into the Learning Village will be completed in summer and all construction is slated to be completed in 2011.

Over the last several months, library personnel have already begun removing a large portion of printed audio and video materials, selling them ‘rummage sale’ fashion to all takers. The more specialized items necessary to research will be transferred to the Village and will then be restored in the enhanced archival research section included in the new plans.

The first floor of the new facility will be dedicated to classrooms only. The second floor will house the Interactive Academic Support Center and will include the reading lab, LAP, writing lab, Interclub Council, and the language lab, in addition to the college Reference Center. The third floor will house the high-tech library, a ‘no-conversation’ area devoted to electronic and bound resources. The floor will also feature exhibits, study rooms and the Liberal Arts Division Offices.

“The impact to the college should be a positive one for all,” O’Connor said. “The consolidation of the classrooms to a single floor will reduce distracting traffic flow, and the study rooms will be completely isolated from the high conversation areas like the computer area currently on the second floor.”

Plans to renovate began over nine years ago when college officials submitted a plan to the chancellor’s office. At the time, it was considered a high-priority item, but delays in funding and approvals, as well as other projects like the BGS renovation superseding the library on the priority list, in large part contributed to the lengthy delay. “Final plans, major design work and approvals are pretty much completed,” O’Connor said. The most problematic element in the relocation has been the disposition of the Communication Arts department. Until recently, no plan discussed was able to encompass a move that included the television studios, several classrooms, faculty offices and radio booths without an unacceptable dollar expenditure, unofficially estimated at $2 million. Under the guidance of Technology and Applied Sciences Dean Don Taylor, the department will temporarily house its studios in the Gaucho Strength Center, and distribute classes and offices in the Village. The program elements that occupied the library will return after the renovation. While unwieldy, the move saves a program that has 2,000 students passing through 3 semesters and has experienced 17 percent growth in the last two years, according to Taylor.

The design firm of GKK Architects are the lead on the project, and funding is expected to exceed $20 million, $14.7 million that has already been allocated by the state.

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