Memorial Library Tackling 2 Projects: A Tunnel and A Faculty Development Center

The Memorial Library at Minnesota State University, Mankato is making significant changes this year. This summer construction will begin on a new Faculty Development Center in the Educational Resource Center, ERC. And planning has already commenced on a tunnel connecting the library and the Centennial Student Union, CSU.

Funding for both projects will not fall entirely on the library. The library is, however, funding part of both projects.

The Faculty Development Center

Planning and preparation for the new Faculty Development Center began over a year ago. The center’s future location in the Memorial Library’s ERC means the ERC’s storage area and service desk must be relocated. In addition, the Center for Children’s and Young Adult Books, a non-circulating collection, will be phased out during the next academic year.

Part of the preparation for the center included finding homes for hundreds of 16 millimeter films. All total, the library found new homes for 500 titles in 8 different places.

“It is a hassle for us to move out and get rid of stuff, but it wasn’t stuff we were using,” Leslie Peterson, assistant to the dean of the library, said. “The positives outweigh the negatives.”

One of the positives of the project is that the construction will also include improvements to the ERC. Three significant improvements will be made to the ERC.

  • a new service desk
  • a new work space
  • a new study room

The ERC will only be closed for three weeks following the end of the second summer session. This time will allow the construction crew unlimited time and access to the ERC.

“For three weeks, they can do anything they want,” Barb Bergman, the ERC Coordinator, said. “If they need to (they can) just go crazy.”

The Faculty Development Center and ERC will be open at the start of the new term in August. The new space will provide faculty members a space with multiple offices and a conference room.

Faculty members will be able to exchange ideas in a central location on campus. Other benefits the space will provide faculty members include:

  • a space to elicit support
  • a space to encourage interaction
  • a space to encourage discussion

Unfortunately, the ERC will lose a significant portion of its space to make room for the faculty center. Still, Bergman and Peterson both agree the project triggered improvements to the ERC. Improvements they agree would not have been discussed without this new construction project.

“The Faculty Development Center is a catalyst for change,” Leslie Peterson said.

The Tunnel

A tunnel connecting the Centennial Student Union and Memorial Library is the newest project the Memorial Library has committed to funding.

As part of President Davenport’s challenge to create ‘Big Ideas,’ he granted $420,000 in funding to the project. The library will contribute $400,000 and the CSU $300,000 to fund the approximate $1.22 million project.

“It is a good project,” Laurie Woodward, the director of the CSU, said. “I think it will be an easy project.”

Woodward and Joan Roca, the dean of library services, have been talking about the possible connection for a few years. The connection will finally cement a strong partnership between two facilities committed to serving MSU students.

Before committing to funding the project, Woodward elicited the advice of the CSU board and student government. Both groups were tremendously positive about the connection.

One of the biggest reasons the two groups were excited about the project was because of the location of the tunnel’s connection to the CSU. The two groups are hoping the tunnel’s connection downstairs will provide more traffic to the Maverick Bullpen.

The project is still in its early stages. While planning and preparation began in March, construction will not commence until April 2013.

And while the project will likely have little effect on the CSU’s operations, the Memorial Library is a different story. The front yard of the library’s single entrance will be ripped apart.

Part of this front yard includes the Tim Smith Memorial Park. This park honors Tim Smith, who worked as a MSU librarian and assistant professor. Unfortunately, the park will have to be relocated to accommodate the construction of the tunnel.

Any construction at the library is difficult because the facility must always stay open for its employees.

“The library is like a moving car that we are trying to change the tire on,” Leslie Peterson said.

Still, both Peterson and Woodward believe students will be happy for the connection during the cold, Minnesota winters.

The tunnel will be handicap accessible. And in the initial plan the space was also to include a studying area with:

  • a skylight
  • electrical outlets
  • chairs
  • tables

If everything runs smoothly, the proposed opening date of the tunnel is September 2013.

For a more detailed outline of both construction projects, review my timeline. And do not forget to voice your opinion in the poll!