August 17, 2006

Construction brings changes for fall semester Morris Library will close at midnight this semester

by Pete Rosenbery

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- The ongoing renovation and expansion to Southern Illinois University Carbondale's Morris Library is resulting in changes in library access and hours.

Access to the basement is restricted to library staff only, and the library is closing two hours early -- at midnight Sunday through Thursday. The change starts with the fall 2006 semester which begins Monday, David H. Carlson, dean of library affairs said.

"It has just proven to be impossible to maintain the separation of space that we wanted to between construction activity and library – particularly public space," Carlson said.

Carlson emphasizes about 80 percent of the Dewey-based collection remains at McLafferty Annex, which is open to the public for browsing materials.

Restricting access will provide for better protection for materials in the basement, which includes print periodicals from 1996 to the present and new books purchased within the last three years. Anyone wanting materials from the basement can make a request to a staff member at the circulation and information desk.

"We are hopeful that we can do that on more or less an immediate basis; that people won't have to wait two hours for it. But that will be dependant upon staff and availability," he said. A request form is available online at

Faculty members and graduate students needing to browse materials in the basement are to contact their department liaison or information desk staff to make arrangements. Extended visits are limited to after 3:30 p.m. or on weekends when construction activity ends.

Some of the smaller collections and services are also being moved out of the basement into other facilities, Carlson said.

The west wing of the library's first floor, which contains seating space, computer facilities, reference, circulation and reserve service, remains open.

Carlson emphasizes while building use count statistics indicates library usage decreased with construction, "retrieval statistics are strong," and students are getting the needed materials. Reducing hours will make it easier for the library to be cleaned, increase staffing coverage during regular hours, and make it easier for staff to deal with building issues as they happen, he said.

Library hours are 1 p.m. to midnight, Sunday; 7:30 a.m. to midnight Monday through Thursday, 7:30 a.m. to 9 p.m. Friday, and 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Saturday.

Susan E. Tulis, associate dean of Library Affairs, is impressed with the students who are at the library studying on a daily basis.

The $48 million expansion and renovation project is expected to be completed in mid- to late-2008. The project includes a complete renovation of the seven-story structure, a 50,000-square-foot addition and various technology and efficiency upgrades.

Carlson and Tulis each noted the progress made since construction started six months ago.

Elevating Morris Library to rank among the top 50 of the Association of Research Libraries' publicly supported 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.