Case Goes Under the Knife

Colgate’s new library just rolled into town and settled in the parking lot between the Student Union and Case Library. Yes, that is right, it is a trailer. And yes, it is propped up – country-bumpkin fashion – on a series of cinderblocks. All the same, when one gazes upon this big blue rectangle, that person is witnessing next year’s library in all its cubic glory.

Of course, it is only temporary and certainly not the only means of replacing Case next year. The details of the library situation were discussed in great length at an open presentation given by Associate Provost Trish St. Leger and Associate Professor in University Libraries Frank Gavett. During the presentation, they provided information on the library’s arrangements, issues that might arise and details on the advantages that renovating Case will bring.

Creating a full service library without an actual library is a difficult task, especially when one has to replace 907 seats, 85 computer stations and an entire collection of materials. However, there is a clear plan for making sure these services will be available. James C. Colgate Hall (The Student Union) is the crux of the plan.

“The Hall of Presidents will become a quiet study area with various seating and some computers. The Clark Room will be a computer classroom by day and a public lab by night – very much like the Picker Classroom in the library is today. The Pub will have the reference desk and circulation,” St. Leger said.

All told, there will be over 170 seats, roughly 70 computers and several audio-visual workstations housed in the Student Union. Also, pre-prepared foods, snacks and beverages will be served from the Pub.

And the trailer?

“It will have the entire reference collection as well as some other parts of the library collection,” St. Leger said.

To further increase seating capacity, there are plans to make Lawrence Hall classrooms available.

“The reason we picked Lawrence Hall is because of its location on the hill,” St. Leger said. “It also has the Keck Center on the first floor with computers and printers that will be helpful, and it’s also the academic building that has the most number of classrooms with tables in it.”

Desks, chairs and other furniture will be distributed to various residence halls; the former Cutten dining hall will provide another 100 seats; while the Commons will be set aside for use during the week, but not weekends. Yet, if even more space is in demand, there are ways to fill that request.

“One of the things we’re planning to do is during the peak times around mid-terms and finals exams…we’ll open the Edge Caf?e and Frank Dining Hall after their meal hours. So that adds hundreds of more seats for students looking for more study space,” St. Leger said.

While many of the space issues have been accounted for, services will not run as smoothly as they are now. Browsing is an issue, because much of Case’s materials will be in storage.

“We have done some things to mitigate that problem, but we can’t eliminate it,” Gavett said. He did note that browsing is possible within the catalogue, and that in the reference collection, for example, browsing will still be possible.

Availability is also a concern, since there is no guarantee that books will be accessible – but for the most part, this will not be an issue.

“The large part of the collection that you’re going to need for any paper that you do, that was available to you before, is probably still going to be available,” Gavett said. “There are significant parts of the Dewey collection that won’t be available, but [those parts] account for about eight percent of our circulation. Most of what you have used in previous years will be available to you next year.”

With James C. Colgate Hall occupied, student groups and organizations might run into trouble finding locations for their events. St. Leger encouraged student groups to plan ahead.

“There’s not going to be as much space, and we’ll have to look to other venues and be more creative,” she said. “I know the Palace is starting to book up for next semester already. We just ask that people be flexible and creative and plan; but it’s not going to be as easy as right now.”

The benefits of the new system, however, will outweigh the costs of these inconveniences. One can already see first-hand what fruits the library renovation will yield: the new Library Automated Storage and Retrieval (LASR) system is one example. The system can hold the equivalent of 500,000 volumes.

The entire fa?cade of the building will be redone and its size will be expanded by over 50,000 square feet. A caf?e and a 24-hour study area will be added along with the new fifth floor.

“A lot of new technology will come with the building; there are remote conference capabilities, digital video studios and audio studios,” St. Leger said.

That’s not all. Gavett expanded upon some of the less noticeable benefits that will be available.

“One of the things we’ve never been able to do, because of the way security works, is to have lockers,” he said. “So, if you go downstairs and you get 20 books off of the shelf and you don’t really have time to figure out which three or four are the ones you want, you don’t have to carry them off to your room. You can put them in a locker and come back tomorrow.”

One of the most important additions to the library will be a bridge that links the library to the upper campus.

“There are lots of architectural features to the building…I just think about the bridge going into the fifth floor that goes up close to Alumni Drive,” St. Leger said. One of the things we really wanted to be able to do was have Case Library more accessible from up the hill…It’s a bridge to the upper campus.”

Gavett was equally enthused about the prospect.

“It brings people through the library,” he said. “We have visions of students walking up from Broad Street, coming into the library on the third floor, letting their fingers and toes thaw out as they go up to the fifth floor, grabbing a latte and then heading off to class.”