July 17, 2007

Trustees OK additional funds for library project

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. – The Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees' approval last week of an additional $14.8 million for the Morris Library expansion/renovation project means that library officials can order shelving and furniture considered critical to keeping the project on schedule.

The board's July 12 vote brings the total cost of the project – the largest capital project in the University's history – to $56.5 million. Nearly $3 million of the additional funds will pay for furniture, including shelving, office systems furniture and public access library furniture.

"All of this funding is critical, but the resources for shelving are especially time-sensitive," library affairs Dean David Carlson said. "Due to the significant lead time required for the specification, manufacture, deliver and installation of shelving, it is critical that the purchase order for shelving be released as soon as possible."

The equipment will facilitate the relocation of staff and books from the basement and first floor to the second through fifth floors, which will allow contractors to begin renovation on the lower levels.

The increase in funding also will permit completion of the sixth and seventh floors.

Completion of the 50,000-square-foot addition and the renovations of the basement through fifth floor is set for summer or early fall 2008. Work on the sixth and seventh floors won't begin until the current work is completed, with projected completion of the top two floors set for one year after completion of the current project.

Prior to last week's approval, the project budget was $41.7 million. There are several reasons for the funding shortfall, including increased costs for information technology, construction materials due to Hurricane Katrina, labor, fixed and movable equipment and the collapse of an existing masonry wall.

The University submitted a request to the state for $14.4 million to help fund the completion of the project. Pending the approval of the state's capital budget, an internal loan will keep the project moving. Campus general operating funds will secure debt repayment pending a final decision on capital funding.

Morris Library remains open during the construction and renovation. For updates on the library project, visit the facility's web site at http://www.lib.siu.edu.