Library expansion to create unique learning environment

This summer, several years of careful planning and drawing-board visions for acquiring information in the next millennium will be realized as the General Libraries and the Information Technology Division (ITD) combine forces to begin building the new Center for Library and Information Resources.

The first phase of the project will be the construction of a 60,000-square-foot addition to Woodruff Library that will span the ravine in the space now occupied by the bridge between the Woodruff and Candler libraries. Once the new construction is complete, the three lower floors of Woodruff will be renovated.

The addition and renovation will provide more space for faculty and students to work, consult with one another and with library staff, and provide improved access to a wide array of information resources. The goal is to offer an integrated service environment, or a "one-stop shop" for information support, bringing together the expertise of librarians, multimedia professionals and technology specialists under one roof.

Although network connections are provided to offices, residence halls and laboratories throughout the campus, the library will be a central gathering place for students and faculty to conduct research, socialize and share ideas. Library staff believe that providing a mix of traditional library services and the newer multimedia technology will create an environment for learning that will bring people into the library and promote a sense of community among Emory's scholars.

The open design of the new building is flexible and can be adapted to changing needs over the coming years. The center will feature a number of classrooms and conference rooms, all with data lines for electronic accessing of information both at Emory and at other institutions around the world. Group study areas and computer work stations designed for clusters of students working together on various projects also will be included. All of the classrooms will be equipped for multimedia presentations, and more reading room space is planned.

The new building actually will extend the three lower floors of Woodruff across the ravine toward Candler, and will include an additional floor that will rise to the height of Candler Library. The exterior of the four-story building-featuring stucco, cut stone, fieldstone and a clay tile roof-will be compatible with existing quadrangle buildings. The $23-million project, including the renovation of Woodruff, will take approximately two years to complete. The building has been designed by Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, a Boston firm known for innovative library architecture.

While the project will cause some disruption, directional signs both outside and within the library will help get people where they want to go and minimize inconvenience to library users and passers-by.

What happens first? To make way for the addition, trees and ground vegetation in that portion of the ravine directly in front of Woodruff Library will be removed. The trees near the Mizell Bridge and the Baker Woodland will not be affected. Within a few months, the bridge between Woodruff and Candler will come down, and a temporary entrance to Woodruff will be constructed on the opposite side of the building. The stream running in front of Woodruff will be redirected slightly to facilitate construction and ultimately will run under the new building.

When construction is complete, the part of the ravine nearest Asbury Circle and the area just downstream from the addition will be replanted with a variety of plants and trees indigenous to this region. The landscape architectural firm of Hughes, Good, O'Leary and Ryan has taken an extensive inventory of everything growing in the ravine and has made recommendations for replanting.

"Everyone involved in the Center for Library and Information Resources project is sensitive to the need for restoring the natural environment after construction," said Joan Gotwals, vice provost and director of libraries. "Replanting and landscaping will afford a creative opportunity to develop and maintain this area after years of neglect. The result will be the restoration of the natural environment, with a free-flowing stream and an abundance of greenery."

Library staff will issue construction updates for the duration of the project and will make every effort to minimize disruption of services. Project fact sheets are available at the Woodruff security desk, and an information kiosk will be in place by early summer. The library web sit is available at LIB_ITD/ for more detailed information.

-- Donna Bradley

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