June 01, 2006

Morris Library project remains on track

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The Morris Library renovation is on track and on schedule, with workers set to finish removing the last portions of exterior brick next week, a Southern Illinois University Carbondale official said Thursday.

David Carlson, dean of library affairs at SIUC, said the estimated $48-million project is proceeding according to plan, with completion still set for 2008.

"We've accomplished a great deal and it's a big relief to get that brick off the building," Carlson said.

Carlson said construction crews will remove the last of the brick façade on the south side of the building next week. The work will necessitate closing the entrance on that side of the building for a few days, Carlson said. Library patrons instead will enter the building through the west entrance and the library will remain open as usual.

Workers up until now have focused mostly on tearing out old portions of the building. Within a few weeks, however, onlookers will see evidence of new construction, Carlson said. In particular, construction crews will begin digging the footings for the new 50,000-square-foot addition to the north side of the building.

"That will be exciting for us to see construction," he said.

Along with the addition, the renovation includes changes that increase efficiency and new technology for the nearly 50-year-old building, which is a centerpiece of the SIUC campus.

Carlson said the interim system for keeping materials available, which includes storage and material access at the McLafferty Annex about a mile west of campus, is working well. He expects students will have a positive experience with the system when they arrive on campus for summer and fall semesters.

"Last fall was a difficult semester, when we had so many things in transit," Carlson said. "But the delivery system is up and operating and doing well. We're meeting requests for materials."

The core undergraduate collection and majority of staff remain directly available to the public on the first floor and basement of Morris Library.

Carbondale Fire Department crews responded to the library briefly Thursday morning when sparks from a cutting torch caused insulation inside a wall to smolder. Firefighters and University employees cleared smoke from the building.

Enhancing the library and knowledge resources is 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.

Morris Library

Out with the old­ –
Construction workers
tear off pieces of the
old façade above the
main entrance to Morris
Library this week as
work progressed on the
major renovation
project under way there.
Workers are scheduled
to finish removing
exterior brick next
week and officials
say the project is on
schedule. Download
Photo Here