U library to be renovated for new technology

by Benjamin Sandell

With five main facilities and 11 branch sites, the University research library system is the 17th largest in North America.
The demands to keep the libraries up-to-date are ever growing. Media is becoming digital and advancements in technology are speeding ahead at a lightening-quick pace.
The University, therefore, has had to endure an extensive makeover.
The Walter Library renovation is one of two major projects the University is undertaking in order to enhance the quality of the libraries.
The project is one to two months behind schedule, according to University officials. The library is slated to open next fall, but it might be pushed back until early 2002.
The other project, the construction of the Andersen Library on the West Bank, was completed last spring.
The main purposes of the renovations are to add additional shelf space for an overflowing amount of collections and to install the latest technology.
The construction projects cost an estimated $93.5 million, which was primarily funded by the state Legislature.
Andersen Library houses 1.5 million books, manuscripts, illustrations and artifacts.
“We wanted all of these important collections to be brought together in a secured, controlled environment. It provides much better access to these records,” Shaughnessy said.
The building offers additional space for the University libraries and houses the Minnesota Library Access Center, which allows for efficient retrieval of rare, infrequently used collections.
The back of Walter Library on Pleasant Street has been gutted. A structural skeleton remains.
The front, facing Northrop mall, is still intact because developers want to maintain the building’s familiar look.
The library, built in 1924, lacks appropriate wiring and electronic equipment. It also needs a new heating and air conditioning system.
“The main reasons for the Walter library renovation is to bring the building up to code,” said Thomas Shaughnessy, a University librarian. “The library collections needed to be properly preserved. Humidity controls and air conditioning will allow for a safe environment.”
The renovation also includes the addition of the new Digital Technology Center.
The center will take up about half of the library and will feature state-of-the-art facilities, mainly for digital and engineering research.
Many collections will be put into electronic format, and the library system is also working on how to better utilize the Internet.
The rest of the building will house the science and engineering library.
Until then, the collections will be housed at the Andersen library on the West Bank.