Delays pushing back Library West opening

Published: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, January 13, 2006 at 12:00 a.m.
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Glenn McMahon of Shea's Glass works Thursday to install a pressure bar to the glass of the expansion project at Library West on the University of Florida campus.

TRICIA COYNE/Special to The Sun
Two years of renovations at University of Florida's Library West has some students dreaming of the day it will reopen, while others new to campus since the main library closed aren't sure what to expect.
The $30 million renovation and expansion of UF's largest library is ongoing and students graduating this semester likely won't get the opportunity to try it out. It was originally anticipated to reopen as early as March.
But underclassmen such as Lauren Almand have their own study routines that have never included using that library. The project will increase the library's capacity from 1 million to 1.7 million volumes.
Not sure what to say about a library she's never known, Almand said: "I'm sure it'll probably be more convenient for people on this side of campus."
The earliest the library will open is at the end of this semester, said Bill Covey, a library administrator, adding the renovation team has hit a few snags that are pushing the completion date back.
Bad weather cost the construction crew at least nine working days, and other delays have come with unforeseen design problems in the 35-year-old structure.
An unresolved safety issue with the installation of the compact shelving units is also causing delays. Covey said workers had originally planned to move the books back into the library floor by floor as the shelving units were completed, but safety issues with construction areas halted those plans.
He said it will take about six to eight weeks to move close to 1 million volumes out of storage and back into the library. And they just started installing the shelving this week, instead of last fall as intended. He said they will probably be installing shelving through the first week of May.
The original Library West housed books for the humanities and social sciences and those volumes are now being stored in off-campus facilities. Students wanting to check out those volumes can request them online and pick them up at Marston Science Library next to Turlington Hall on campus.
Safraz Sattaur, an English major, works at the retrieval desk in the Marston library, and worked at Library West before the renovations. He said the retrieval process works fine most of the time, but he has some problems when the computer system crashes, and sometimes people get angry if their books aren't available when they come to pick them up.
"However well retrieval services run, it's better to be able to browse the shelves yourself," he said.
Sattaur also said more books get misplaced because they are shuffled around to so many places.
Graduate student Billy Shields said it is hard having to wait 24 hours for books that he needs. It is also a different experience ordering books online rather than physically browsing shelves, he said.
"Any time your library is in essence a warehouse out by the airport, it's not an ideal situation," Shields said. "I'll just be glad when the new library is done."

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