The University Record, November 23, 1992

UGLi soon will no longer be ugly

By Kate Kellogg
News and Information Services

A vastly transformed Undergraduate Library will house the University's new Science Library: a consolidation of all science collections on campus, with the exception of engineering and medical sciences. Museums collections will remain where they are.

The Regents last week approved the design of a $6.85 million addition to the Undergraduate Library to accommodate these materials, new electronic resources and, of course, the accompanying increase in users. The project also calls for major renovations, estimated at $4 million, which include a new facade for the building's main entrance and bridges connecting the Undergraduate Library to the West Engineering Building and the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.

The addition, to be funded by a bond sale, is scheduled for completion by 1994.

The University's science holdings represent a wide and overlapping cross-section of disciplines, ranging from biochemistry to environmental science. A unified science library has long been a vision of many faculty and administrators, according to Donald E. Riggs, dean of the University Library.

"Last March, the president, the provost, the heads of the science departments and I sat down and discussed the need for a consolidated science library," he said. "Not only are many of the science libraries' facilities in bad shape---the ceiling of the Chemistry Library often leaks, for example---but they are scattered throughout Central Campus. We saw a clear need for one science library that could serve the entire University, a place where students and faculty could easily access all science materials."

The proposal gained Regental approval last May, and by August the move was under way. The Physics-Astronomy Library and the geology portion of the Natural Science Library already have moved from classroom buildings to the third and fourth floors of the Undergraduate Library. The remaining natural science collections, along with those in the Mathematics and Chemistry Libraries, will move over the next two years.

The combined collections will contain more than 300,000 volumes, constituting one of the nation's largest single collections of publications in pure science. In order to house them all, the Undergraduate Library must grow 16 feet outward on the west, north and east sides, in a wrap-around expansion.

Such a dramatic increase in the building's mass almost demands a corresponding improvement in its appearance, Riggs acknowledged.

"It is appropriate that Albert Kahn Associates, the same architectural firm that designed the original building in the mid-1950s, will design the new facade, internal renovations and connecting walkways," Riggs said. "We jokingly told Kahn Associates that this is their chance to redeem themselves."

Most important, the Science Library will greatly improve services, Riggs added. The new facility will be open 21 hours per day, seven days a week, and will seat a total of 472 users---nearly 200 more than all four science libraries currently offer. By consolidating the staffs of the science libraries, the new library will have a large pool of science librarians who can extend the regular reference schedule.

A Science Communications Laboratory will provide access to various electronic resources and user instruction. Electronic delivery systems and on-line indexes "reduce the urgency to have a science index in the same building as an instructor's office," Riggs said.

The Science Library's address is 312 Undergraduate Library and its main phone number is 764-3442. The Science Library does not provide circulation services but the circulating volumes in its collection may be borrowed at the circulation desk on the first floor of the Undergraduate Library. Reserve materials for courses in physics, astronomy and geology may be borrowed at the University Library Reserve Service, 318 UGLi.