August 23, 2004

Preparations under way for library project

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Preparations are well under way for the renovation and expansion of Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Morris Library.

The $42 million undertaking, the largest capital project in SIUC's history, will include modernization of the existing 275,000-square-foot facility and a 50,000-square-foot addition. Construction will take about three years.

Many changes already are under way to prepare for the project, and more changes will continue throughout the fall semester. Officials expect a groundbreaking ceremony to take place in late fall or early winter. The best way to get up-to-date information on where to find materials and for updates on the project is to go to

Over the summer, library administration, Instructional Support Staff and the IT/Library Academic Tech Center relocated to the Northwest Annex. Also, current print journals are now in the library basement, and new issues received during the renovation will be available in the basement. Older issues are now in remote storage.

The renovation will occur in two major phases: Phase one will start in February 2005, with completion expected in summer 2006; phase two will begin when phase one ends and will conclude in August 2007.

During phase one, the library will maintain key services, but half of the first floor and all of floors two through seven will be under renovation and inaccessible to patrons. Construction of the 50,000-square-foot addition to the north of the existing facility also will occur during phase one. At the end of phase one, some staff and collections will return to the library and occupy the newly renovated floors and space. During phase two, the remaining floors (other half of the first floor and all of the basement) will be closed.

Other changes that will take place during the fall include:

  • All books purchased since January 2002 will move to the lower level of Morris. These books and all new books received until completion of the project will remain in Morris.
  • The Information Desk and Reserve Collection will remain on the main floor. However, reserves will shift to the northwest and the Circulation Desk will expand operations across the hall into the Browsing Room. This expansion will accommodate some interlibrary loan operations as well as a holding area for document delivery.
  • The Map Collection and Geographic Information Systems will move to the lower level of Morris, as will the Curriculum Materials Center.

Construction of a 50,000-square-foot storage facility on the southwest side of campus, the McLafferty Annex, will shave as much as two years and $715,000 off the original estimates for the expansion/renovation project. That project is under way. During the spring semester, library officials anticipate moving much of the staff and older books (purchased prior to January 2002), older periodicals (pre-1996), government documents and most microfilm to the annex.

The library will offer delivery of materials from the annex to Morris, with the goal of two-hour turnaround time for any request of materials owned by the library until 6 p.m. on weekdays. Once that service is available, the library's Web site will include an electronic request form. In addition, browsing and use of materials in the annex will be available, though operating hours are not yet set.

Enhancing Morris library is among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint for the development of the University by the time it observes its 150th anniversary in 2019.