Posted on May 1, 1994


With work on the restoration of the Nott Memorial well underway, the College has turned to its next major
Bicentennial Campaign project-the renovation and expansion of Schaffer Library.

A committee of faculty and staff has completed work on a program plan, the campus planning office has converted the plan into specifications about space needs, and the College has authorized the architectural firm of Perry Dean Rogers to begin work on detailed architectural drawings.

At the same time, the College Relations staff is beginning a major effort to raise the needed funding-estimated at about $18 million.

The library made news last year, when more than 50,000 volumes had to be moved to an off-campus site. The reason-safety concerns raised about slab deflection in the 1974 addition on the east side of the library.

The moving of the books was the most visible sign of a library that has become too small for campus needs. Another sign is the fact that the present building cannot support the technologically-sophisticated electronic media that students and faculty use daily.

Barbara Jones, the College's librarian, notes that virtually every library resource can now be acquired, catalogued, and circulated electronically. In the engineering sciences, for example, access to nearly all of the basic research material must be done electronically; mathematics and the natural sciences aren't far behind, and by the end of the decade government documents will be available only on compact discs or on-line data bases.

Given this electronic age, the question then becomes why the need to rebuild the central library space? Jones says there are several reasons:

First, the library must provide electronically-equipped instruction space to help students and faculty learn how to use these often complex tools; such space also must meet faculty demand for customized course instruction on various subjects and research methodologies.

Second, collaborative learning­whether it is a group of classics students meeting together to write a Greek comedy or a group of engineering students meeting to solve a structural problem-is an important part of the College's educational process. The library must have space for collaborative learning, space that ranges from group study rooms to multi-user computer work stations.

Third, of course, is the College's priceless 200-year-old collection of books-a collection available nowhere else and in no other format. There simply is no way this collection could be microfilmed or electronically converted, and the College will not limit future collections only to electronic formats. The library, Jones says, must continue to offer works in whatever format that is most appropriate.

When the project is done, a visitor standing in Library Plaza will have to look carefully to see the differences. The western facade facing the Nott Memorial and forming an integral part of the historic Rameé campus will look much as it does today.

The view from the east will be different, however. The 1974 annex will be dismantled and a new three-story facility will be built. Seven to twelve feet will be added to both the north and south sides of the original 1960 Schaffer Library. All told, there will be about 50,000 square feet of new floor space.

The interior will be dramatically different. Most of the interior will be rebuilt with reinforced floor space, conduits for electronic data and communication distribution, and energy-efficient lighting and climate control.

The goal is construct a library that will feel comfortable to both the traditionalist who wants to browse through the stacks of Keats and the computer wizard who wants to plug into an electronic workstation to obtain information stored at the other end of the continent.

The actual construction will proceed in stages so that the library can remain open throughout the construction process. In keeping with the College's policy of fiscal prudence, construction will not begin until all of the needed funding has been raised. Pledges and gifts to date total about $2 million.