By MICHELLE COXEY and ALLISON BRINKERHOFF
Editor’s Note: NewsNet reporters were the first members of the media given a tour of the new Harold B. Lee Library addition. This story and the accompanying photos vividly describe the new facilities — the next best thing to going down there yourself.
The library is not yet finished, but two NewsNet reporters put on hard hats and were given an exclusive tour.
Guided past the warning signs and through chained-off doors, they saw all the features that Randy Olsen, deputy university librarian, said students would think were worth the wait.
It may not look like it from the outside, but the inside construction is well on its way. At first glance, the library addition resembles a mall with split-level floors and skylights. These aesthetically pleasing features were part of the architect’s original goals.
“The architect’s goal was to provide lots of light with skylights, an atrium and a wall of windows on the north side. I think he really succeeded,” said Cali O’Connell, administrative assistant of the library.
The atrium is in about the same place one would expect it to be in a mall, right near the center.
Doug Welling, vice president of Jacobsen Construction, said, “The atrium is stunning and very open. It allows students to see all of the natural light and gives them a beautiful view of Mt. Timpanogos. It is very clean and bright.”
The surrounding areas encompassing the atrium are also aesthetically beautiful, and well thought out. In fact, it was this area outside, east of the atrium, that needed to be redesigned, causing the delay in the completion of the building, Welling said.
From the outside it might appear as if the new annex would be dank, since it is all underground. However, Welling said the atrium allows a lot of natural light to come in.
2nd floor annex
Not only is the new annex bright and beautiful, but it is also structurally and technologically advanced, said O’Connell.
In fact, Olsen said, “We are among the most technologically advanced libraries in the country.”
The second floor is where the technology is. This floor will be filled with many student work spaces and a periodical section containing both current and past issues.
All of the library’s periodicals will cover the entire second floor annex.
“They will not leave the area and will be reshelved every hour. Most students use periodicals and journals often. They use books too, but mostly journals, O’Connell said.
With the new system, students will find that periodicals are more readily available, and it no longer will be a scavenger hunt to do a research paper.
In the same area, there will be a copy center and a computer lab plus several self-serve copy machines to further facilitate using the periodicals.
“We’ve tried to provide the supplies students need to use the periodical section,” O’Connell said.
The new student study spaces consist of many large study tables and individual carrels, each containing Internet ports.
During the planning stages, Olsen visited several college libraries, and to his knowledge BYU is more extensively wired than any college he visited.
O’Connell said this room, along with all the others, met their four original objectives. She said the library administration wanted better environment control for books, more study space for students, more space for books and more technology.
O’Connell said the fourth objective is one of the best features of the new annex.
“We are excited because the technology in the building will really help the students get a better education. It’s built to utilize every aspect of technology.”
O’Connell is also impressed that the library contains so much infrastructure for future technology. Olsen said this was one of BYU President Merrill J. Bateman’s primary goals for the construction.
“In the beginning President Bateman requested that the library be designed to carry students into the next century,” Olsen said.
The infrastructure has a 21st century appeal.
“A five-foot grid under the floor has the potential to increase both power and shelving space, thus increasing flexibility for the future,” said O’Connell.
The family history section will also be located on the second floor, thus accommodating the past, present and future of BYU.
The annex will provide more space to study genealogy, more microfiche machines, and lap top Internet ports, O’Connell said.
“The church is historically oriented, so for us, these issues become important to us,” said Tom McHoes, the library publicist.
There is also a large room designated for instruction on library use, designed to instruct students during their introduction to the library. The room will provide assistance in teaching large groups as a whole.
There are four classrooms called “telerooms” that were clearly designed with students in mind.
Each student is given a computer to actually experiment with the research techniques that they are taught.
There is a vast amount of floor space available down on the bottom floor.
The second floor and entry level cannot have as much floor space because of the holes needed to allow light to make it all the way to the first floor, O’Connell said.
To liven up the entertainment value of the library, they have included an auditorium. Here they will invite speakers to conduct large group instructions, lectures, and symposiums.
There is a 16-millimeter film screen in the center of the stage. On this screen, BYU will show films of famous people such as Cecil B. DeMille and others, which have been a part of BYU’s Special Collection.
The auditorium is also equipped with broadcast capabilities of an international range.
There is a large area on the first floor designed to accommodate the social science references. This area will be structured similarly to the periodical section with study carrels, tables, rooms, and Internet ports, for easier student access.
Although the students will now be able to get their hands on more materials, there will be other areas that will be mostly off-limits, except for in-depth research purposes.
One of these off-limits areas is in the Special Collections section on the first floor. This area is a non-public collection, containing rare books, manuscripts, and personally donated items.
This area is usually used by faculty and graduate students; however, undergraduates with legitimate, scholarly reasons will also be permitted to use these items, O’Connell said.
There will be exhibit space to showcase some of the special items, she said. And, in the completely off-limits area, there is a large room filled with compact shelves.
The room is designed to maximize storage space. The shelves double the storage space and the room has no ceilings or aisles. Buttons are pushed to move the shelves closer together to provide the necessary aisles.
The most interesting device in the off-limits room is the “anti-squish” device, so that mechanically moving shelves will not squish any of the librarians.
Along with the advanced storing devices, the new annex has a cold vault, which is essentially a very large refrigerator with a constant 40-degree temperature control.
This type of room is fairly uncommon in any collegiate library, O’Connell said. Its purpose is to preserve historical photographs and other fragile materials.
BYU has a large collection of photographs of the Western expansion, which can now be preserved with better quality.