The Colgate Scene
July 2004

Transformation of Case Library begins

This artist's rendering shows the entry terrace at the northwest corner. The Willow Path is to the right. [Enlarge]


A $45 million project to renovate and expand Everett Needham Case Library that university administrators say will create a distinctive building that will transform learning and propel research on campus is underway.

A groundbreaking ceremony marking the official start of the two-year project, which is four times larger than any previous capital project at Colgate, was held in May.

Administrators say Case Library, built in 1959 and expanded in 1981, cannot meet the needs of students in the 21st century. Once the project is completed, though, they say it will provide a center for a new information age that will give students and faculty innovative tools for interdisciplinary, collaborative learning.

The renovation/expansion means the building will house not only Colgate's library specialists but also the IT staff, creating a group of 70 educational experts working together under one roof. The equipment and resources that will be available to staff, students, and faculty will help create a vibrant intellectual environment that supports academic excellence, according to school officials.

Some of those resources will be available on the building's new fifth floor, which will have its own outside entrance.

The fifth level will house separate areas for videoconferencing and distance learning, audio and video studios, a multimedia production suite, and public computing. A reading room, flanked by two outdoor terraces, will offer views of the Chenango Valley. A café, with plenty of coffee available, and a 24-hour study area for students also are part of the floor plan.

President Rebecca Chopp (center), members of the Board of Trustees, and administrators gather at the groundbreaking ceremony in May for the project to renovate and expand Case Library. The $45 million project is expected to be completed by September 2006. [Photo by Timothy D. Sofranko]

"What gets my heart pumping is not the technology itself," said David Gregory, chief information technology officer. "It's that we are designing a space for collaborative creativity. You will enter our new building to use world-class resources in order to create new scholarship. This will be a facility where people produce new works -- be it books, CDs, videos, or multimedia forms we have yet to imagine."

Two entrances will lead to the main floor, on the third level. Reference desks, the circulation desk, and an IT help desk will be located there. It is modeled around two "main streets" and two "side streets" that establish the footprint for the first four levels of the structure.

On these floors, library users will have access to Colgate's major collections of monographs, journals, rare books, and special collections, music, and other media.

Individual and group seating, seminar rooms, computer classrooms, a microfilm reading room, and the conservation lab, along with network and data centers and various processing centers, will occupy the remaining space in the first four stories.

An atrium will shower the interior of the building with natural light, and a new center hall will provide a pivotal orientation point that ties the levels together.

The project calls for installation of the latest Library Automated Storage and Retrieval (LASAR) system -- a multistory, robotic storage/retrieval mechanism for books, with computer-managed high-density shelving that frees up space and promises significant cost savings.

"Books will never disappear," said Judy Noyes, university librarian, who has overseen a 25 percent growth in the library's holdings. "One reason we need to expand the library is to ensure that our priceless books remain accessible to students."

Because the building will play such a critical role in strengthening the university's overall academic profile, President Rebecca Chopp sees the library/information technology center as a critical resource underpinning the implementation of Colgate's strategic plan: "The metamorphosis of its exterior and restructuring of the interior will create a place that brings together all of the resources that our students and faculty need to energize their thinking and to produce path-breaking work."

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