Library Construction Update

Andrew Wickerham

With classes now in session and Colgate students resigned to the temporary research facilities of the Case Library at James C. Colgate Hall (Case @ JCC), many students are asking when the new Case Library and Center for Information Technology will open. The answer is not nearly as easy to pinpoint as many would hope. “We’d hoped for completion in December for a spring-semester move-in,” Director of Libraries Joanne Schneider said. “Unfortunately, delays in getting materials has pushed completion of levels one through four back to approximately January 22, [2007],” with work on the new level five wrapping up some weeks later.Schneider said that an overall shortage of basic modern building components – steel, PVC pipe, cement and so forth – led to the problem. Development in China and India created a global competition for these resources, as well as reconstruction in disaster zones in Southeast Asia and the U.S. southeast from Hurricane Katrina. “One of the milestones we’re waiting to get will come in October, when the building skin will be finished,” Schneider said. Once protected from the elements, the building’s interior will begin to take shape with projects such as drywalling and plastering. Assuming these items are completed on time, furnishing of the interior spaces will begin in late January. A recently established Move-In Planning Committee will help coordinate the final interior projects and move-in. “Our goal is to see what we can make available to students and when,” Schneider said. One of the scenarios currently under consideration is a plan to stagger completion of certain floors through the late winter and spring for “occupancy during those last, critical weeks after Spring Break.” As part of an effort to maintain access to the library’s collections, the library will not unload the university’s Library Automated Storage and Retrieval (LASR) system until after the end of the academic year. Schneider indicated that she and the library staff understand the problems posed by the project and temporary relocation to Case @ JCC. “The unhappiest people about not being in the space in January are the librarians,” Schneider said. On an optimistic note, she added, “We’re not the only academic institution that has had this problem, so we know we’ll survive,” referencing a similar library expansion at Lehigh University in Pennsylvania. As Colgate students settle in for a long year of study, the realities of the library project are clear. For most of the year, library staff will continue to provide the most efficient research services possible in the temporary Case @ JCC facility, while the university simultaneously works to complete the new Case before the end of spring term in April.