August 14, 2008

Library’s main entrance to open on Saturday

by Christi Mathis

CARBONDALE, Ill. -- It’s often said that in life, when one door closes, another opens. That’s literally what’s happening at Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Morris Library this week. It’s a ‘”very significant milestone” for the massive $56.5 million expansion and renovation project, said David H. Carlson, dean of Library Affairs.

The south entrance has been the main entryway for months as workers transform the library. But, when the library closes for the evening Friday, Aug. 15, they’ll lock the south entrance and begin renovations in that area of the building. When the library opens at 8 a.m. Saturday, Aug. 16, visitors will enter through the north doors. Just inside, in the central area of the main floor, they’ll find the library circulation desk at its new permanent location.

“The contractors are going to start working on the very last original piece of the library,” Carlson said. He praised general contractor River City Construction of Peoria-Benton, the various subcontractors and work crews for the “amazing amount of work” accomplished in recent weeks so the entrance switch can happen in time for Monday’s opening of the fall semester.

He noted that although this is indeed a significant step, work is not yet complete on the project, which entails adding 50,000 square feet and renovating the rest of the existing facility. At present, patrons will utilize just the newly reopened main entrance/circulation area of the main floor along with floors three, four and five.

“The project is going pretty well,” Carlson added. “I think over the course of the fall semester there’s going to be a continuous set of moves that will bring us slowly to the point that we’ll be fully ensconced in the bottom five floors by Jan. 1. There will be regular, ongoing milestones whereby we reestablish people and services at Morris Library. By and large, we will be expanding access all the time.”

The majority of the library’s book collection remains at McLafferty Annex and Carlson said there’s no final decision as yet on when it will return to Morris Library. He said he’s likewise seeing much interest and anticipation from the University community about plans for a coffee commons at the library. He said Chartwells Educational Dining is currently finalizing designs for a ‘”very high quality” commons, deserving of its name. It’s Delyte’s. and like Morris Library as a whole, it bears the name of the late University President Delyte Morris.

For the latest information on the Morris Library expansion and renovation project, visit