Construction makes parts of library off limits

Brett Martin

Students looking to study in Wilson Library during finals week might find some areas and books inaccessible as workers install sprinklers.
“It definitely needs to be done,” said Anna McDonagh of Facilities Management about the $5.5 million effort. “It makes the library a safer place for students and faculty.”
The library project got underway five weeks ago, McDonagh said, and workers began by closing parts of the building not heavily used by students. The reason for the closure is concern about asbestos, McDonagh said. The steel structural beams are sprayed with asbestos fibers, which during the years fall on ceiling tiles. The tiles need to be removed to install the sprinklers. Similar work will also be done in Rarig Center.
“We are aware of the inconvenience, and we are trying to make as many accommodations as possible,” McDonagh said.
When the buildings were built, the sprinkler code was not as rigid as it is now, said Harvey Jaeger of Facilities Management. If the buildings were constructed today, sprinkler systems would be installed in them.
Jaeger said Facilities Management prioritizes work that needs to be done on campus by evaluating potential risks that could occur in buildings. Wilson Library and Rarig Center became high priority, he added.
Thomas Shaughnessy, University librarian, said the project will take about two years to complete because only small parts of the building will be worked on at a time in order to keep it open. Each week a small portion of the library will be closed, and the books in that section will be unavailable for that week.
“We’re glad that it’s only for a week at a time,” said Shaughnessy, adding that closing sections of the library is not an excuse for overdue books.
Signs and flyers are being posted around campus so people will remember part of the library will be closed, Shaughnessy said.
Work has also started in Rarig Center but the majority of it is being done at night, said Sherry Wagner, managing director for the University Theatre.
“The project will have no effect for the University Theatre,” Wagner said.
University Theatre production secretary Linda Schumacher said the University Theatre does not use Rarig Center in the summer; instead, it does its Showboat production on Harriet Island in St. Paul.