June 27, 2006

Library to close for eight days in August

by Tim Crosby

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The sound of jackhammers biting away at concrete will fill the air at Morris Library in early August, prompting Southern Illinois University Carbondale library officials to temporarily close the building for eight days immediately following summer commencement.

Library services, however, will remain available throughout most of the time the building is closed.

David Carlson, dean of library affairs at SIUC, said workers will drill new elevator shafts during the closure. Summer semester ends with final examinations Friday, Aug. 4, and officials plan to close Morris Library at 6 p.m. the following day, Saturday, Aug. 5. The library building will re-open at 7:30 a.m. Monday, Aug. 14, Carlson said.

During the building closure, library services will be available at the Student Center Monday through Friday, Aug. 7-11, Carlson said. Patrons can make returns, pick up materials and submit requests at the temporary facility, which will include a reference desk.

Carlson said SIUC officials decided to close the building during the work because the noise level likely will be "unbearable."

"Part of the project includes putting in a new bank of elevators and the contractor is having to drill holes for those," Carlson explained. "It will be especially bad on the ground floor, where they have to jackhammer through 12 inches of concrete.

"The more we looked at this and the more information we got, the more we seriously considered moving out during this time because of the noise and the jarring effect it will have," Carlson said.

Morris Library is undergoing a $48 million renovation and expansion that is set for completion in 2008. It includes a complete renovation of the existing seven-story structure, a 50,000- square-foot addition and various technology and efficiency upgrades throughout the nearly 50-year-old structure.

The core undergraduate collection and the majority of staff have remained directly available to library patrons during most of the renovation, which began last year. Other materials are available at McLafferty Annex.

Carlson said the closure should have minimal impact because of its timing.

"It's an ideal time to be closed because there are no classes that week. We're in the dead zone between the end of summer and the start of fall," Carlson said. "Except for Christmas and the new year, this is probably the slowest time for us."

Elevating Morris Library to rank among the Top 50 of the Association of Research Libraries' publicly supported academic research libraries in the United States 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.