January 26, 2006

Open house at SIUC recognizes progress

by Tom Woolf

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- Truth be told, the McLafferty annex, on the western edge of the Southern Illinois University Carbondale campus, is nothing more than a warehouse.

But rare is the warehouse that symbolizes progress in the manner of this 60,000-square-foot facility.

SIUC officials hosted an open house today, (Jan. 26) to acknowledge yet another milestone in the continuing makeover of the campus. The annex will serve as home to the majority of Morris Library's collection – more than 2 million volumes – for the next three years as the library undergoes a massive renovation and expansion.

Over the course of three months, Hallett Movers of suburban Chicago and SIUC physical plant and library employees moved 33 miles of books into the annex. With floors two-seven of the library empty and closed, the renovation can begin in earnest. The basement and first floor of Morris Library remain open during this phase of the $42 million undertaking, the largest capital project in the history of the University.

"This facility is yet another sign of the progress we have made in providing our faculty, students and staff with first-rate facilities and first-rate educational opportunities," Chancellor Walter V. Wendler said. "We like to say that all of these improvements are part of the University of the future, but that our future is now. In every corner of the campus, we are enhancing the learning and living environments for our current students and future generations of students."

David H. Carlson, dean of Library Affairs at SIUC, said, all of the contents of the McLafferty facility will move back into Morris Library. "We plan to be here about three years and then move back to a renovated, expanded Morris Library. All of the shelving and books you see here will be moving back with the shelving going in the basement of the new Morris."

Two physical elements distinguish the McLafferty annex: A compact/high density book storage system that efficiently utilizes limited floor space, and the largest geothermal heating, ventilation and air conditioning system in the region. The system will generate minimum annual savings of $21,000 compared with conventional systems.

The mobile shelving system will eventually end up in the basement of Morris Library. The McLafferty annex is designed to become part of a relocated physical plant complex after completion of the library project.

The annex is open to the public from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday-Friday. There are 28 full-time library affairs staff members – representing more than a quarter of the library's staff – and 40 student employees working at the annex.

There also are 10 computers available to the public, as well as two copy machines. Basic circulation services (check-in and check-out of materials) also are available.

However, library staff encourages patrons to use the retrieval system available through the library's Web site at www.lib.siu.edu/departments/circ/storage. Library staff transports requested materials from the annex so they are available at the Morris circulation desk in two hours. Materials remain on hold for two days.

Enhancing Morris Library and SIUC's knowledge resources are among the goals of Southern at 150: Building Excellence Through Commitment, the blueprint the University is following as it approaches its 150th anniversary in 2019.