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SU Library : Construction begins on annex facility

The groundbreaking ceremony for Syracuse University’s library facility on South Campus took place Friday next to the Hawkins Building, where the site will stand.

Faculty and staff members of the library and other departments, as well as guests, were invited to South Campus for the ceremony.

Melissa Welshans, president of the SU Graduate Student Organization and a doctorate student studying English who spoke at the ceremony, helped fight for the new facility’s conception.

‘It shows that when students have a grievance, that, that grievance can be addressed,’ Welshans said.

The high-density storage facility will hold lesser-used materials, as well as materials that need special environmental control, said Pamela McLaughlin, director of communications and external relations at SU Library.

‘We’re a research library, and we need to keep our materials into perpetuity. … A lot of this content is very valuable,’ she said.

The library will not only preserve materials that are not circulated as often and that need special care, but it will also make room in E.S. Bird Library to continue to expand the university’s collection of resources, McLaughlin said.

The facility is innovative in that it will break many precedents set by buildings of the like.

‘No other client allows us to more challenge the norms of our industry,’ said David Nutting, chairman and CEO of VIP Structures Inc., the firm building the facility.

The building will preserve materials in their current condition for 283 years while most storage facilities have a preservation index for about 72 years. By taking numerous steps to make the building unique to maximize space and energy, the facility can be built at about half the initial cost of construction. The building can also be maintained at half of the typical usage costs, Nutting said.

‘This is the beginning of the future for us here at Syracuse University,’ said Vice Chancellor and Provost Eric Spina, who spoke to the more than 100 people in attendance.

Spina said research libraries are currently facing more challenges.

‘We may not know today exactly what the library is going to look like in 10 or 15 years,’ Spina said. But he’s confident that, as a research library and a university, it is a ‘critical element of getting us into a better position as a university.’

Judith Mower, a member of the SU Board of Trustees and the Library Advisory Board, said while books and periodicals maintain their importance, online databases and other tools are becoming more and more integral to a university’s function, making libraries all the more vital in the digital age.

Mower also said the library is ‘the one place where everybody comes together in their role as scholars.’

ccrocket@syr.edu

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