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Updated 9:00 AM October 13, 2004




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New addition to Bentley Library opens

The construction of a 34,000-square-foot addition to the Bentley Historical Library has been completed, nearly doubling the library's original space.

Bentley Director Francis Blouin, Associate Provost for Academic Affairs Janet Weiss and Provost Paul N. Courant perform ribbon-cutting duties at a ceremony in honor of the new addition. (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)

The $5.8 million project, approved by the Board of Regents in 2002 with construction work underway in June 2003, was substantially completed in September, giving the library additional offices and workspace for the staff of the University Archives and Records Program. This program transfers inactive historical records of the University to the Bentley and then arranges, describes and makes them accessible for researchers. A conference room with seating for 12 and expanded storage space with 21,000 linear feet of shelving in the north stacks also were added.

Infrastructure for future expansion of 25,000 linear feet of shelf space in the new south stacks is included in the addition. This expanded shelving space will double the capacity of the library to preserve historical manuscripts, archives, maps, printed and photographic materials, and more. Currently this space is without shelving, a project that should be underway by
winter 2005.

A new lab will enable conservators to continue their work to preserve the documentary heritage of U-M and the state of Michigan.
The new addition nearly doubles the library's original space. (Photo by Paul Jaronski, U-M Photo Services)

Updating of many of the existing building systems, including heating, ventilation and air conditioning, was included in the construction program. A new and upgraded fire detection system and fire suppression system was installed to protect U-M's and the state's documentary heritage.

"In its dual mission as the archives for the U-M and as the principal statewide historical collection for the state of Michigan, the Bentley Library is constantly growing," says Francis
X. Blouin, director of the Bentley. "While much new information comes to us now in digital form, paper remains a popular medium for records, and these paper-based records require space. This new space will enable us to continue our work building the collections and preserving those collections. It comes at the nick of time. We are exceedingly grateful to the regents and the administration of the University for recognizing this critical need to properly house this important and much-consulted intellectual resource."

In 1935, the regents charged the Bentley with the responsibility of serving as the official archives of the University and to document the history of the state and the activities of its people and non-governmental associations and organizations. Those collections were housed in the basement of the Rackham Building under the auditorium. Offices and a reading room were in the building's west wing. The current building was constructed in 1973 with 33,000 gross square feet.

In its nearly 70-year history, the library has amassed extensive holdings on the history of the state and the University, including more than 30,000 linear feet of archives and manuscripts, 60,000 printed volumes, 1.5 million photographs and other visual materials, and more than 10,000 maps. The library's holdings are used by Michigan's citizens, University students, faculty, staff, alumni and administrators, scholars from around the world, and others.

The latest addition to the Bentley used the talents of Jickling, Lyman & Powell Associates of Birmingham, the same firm that designed the library's original structure and the library's neighbor, the Gerald R. Ford Presidential Library. The general contractor for the project was F.J. Jones of Brighton.

A slide show of the work on the addition as it progressed from July 2003 to September 2004 is available at

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