Warm Weather Speeds Up Renovations

The completion of Case Library has almost become an impossible dream for many Colgate students, as renovations on the building wear on.

“There are two conditions that make it difficult to build,” Vice President of Administration Mark Spiro explained. “The first is cold weather because we can’t pour concrete; the second is snow or rain because steel workers can’t work on wet beams. So we’re praying for hot, sunny weather throughout this winter.”

He may have been joking, but the weather the last couple of weeks has been ideal for construction.

“The weather has actually been rather mild so we’ve really been very fortunate,” University Librarian Joanne Schneider said.

According to schedule, all architectural blueprints for the exterior have been completed and interior designs are 98 percent complete. With the completion of December marking the end of demolition work, construction began in January.

The current phase of the construction is focused on dropping in the steel that will support the new fifth floor as well as reinforce the east and west wings, which are to house library services and ITS staff. These additions will increase Case Library’s spatial dimensions from the original 101,000 to 152,000 square feet.

“One of the reasons that we undertook this library renovation project was because we had run out of shelving space,” Schneider said. “We are acquiring books at the same rate or perhaps even faster than in the past but there wasn’t any place to put them.”

“With the library expansion, we are providing 3,300 net square feet of interior space for future growth – something that few other institutions have been able to do,” Spiro said.

The new LASR system also provides the capacity for an additional 550,000 volumes.

New features of the expanded facility will include three new classrooms, five seminar rooms, sixteen group study rooms, two multimedia production studios, plasma screens, a caf?e and a reading room illuminated by natural light on the fifth floor.

The LASR system itself will undergo improvements, thus efficiently cutting the delivery time from one-and-a-half to two hours, to eight to ten minutes. Although the renovated library will retain the LASR system, books with high-frequency utility catalogued as Library of Congress materials will be shelved for old-fashioned browsing.

“One thing that the library and ITS staff see this building as doing is providing a real community space and we can use the metaphor of one-stop shopping for information,” Schneider said. “We perceive students coming, doing individual research or group study, taking a break, getting something to eat, going to the reading room, running into friends, making connections and seeing some of their professors. So we see it as a combination of highly interactive and quiet study space.

“Emphasis is placed on the people who use it more than on the collection that is there. I have a lot of confidence that it will almost be a sort of student center.”

Beginning in March, campus residents will see the structure take more concrete shape when its skeletal steel frame undergoes application of its “skin.”

Once the building is enclosed, focus will be shifted to interior finishing and furnishing. Patrons can expect a fully-renovated Case to open its doors by spring 2007.