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Grand Opening And Public Lecture Set For Oct. 3
Renovated Science And Engineering Library Offers Inviting Ambience For 21st Century Scholarship

September 22, 2003 -- The University of Virginia’s renovated Science and Engineering Library in Clark Hall, a $ 10 million project blending the best traditional elements with the latest technology, will have a grand opening Friday, Oct. 3. The U.Va. Board of Visitors will attend the ceremony, open to the University community and the public. At 2:30 p.m., Joe Palca, senior science correspondent for National Public Radio, will present a public talk in the main room with a reception following. An art exhibition by Art Department faculty will be in display there throughout the academic year. (See related article.)

The state-of-the-art library that students and faculty find waiting for them this fall is designed to meet the needs of today’s technically-savvy users and help them keep abreast of the knowledge explosions in their fields, said Carol R. Hunter, director of the Science and Engineering Libraries system, which includes departmental satellite-libraries. But, “we intend never to lose sight of the fact that a library should be a lively, inviting space,” she said.

Built in the Depression era, the high-windowed library with its entrance hall of grand murals was once the heart of the University’s School of law. After the law school moved, in 1975, the venerable building took new life as a busy Science and Engineering Library.

But by the 21st century, as U.Va.’s science programs grew in stature with the highest aims, the old library remained almost unchanged. Students still studied at long oak tables used by their grandparents. To find books and journals they had to climb down a narrow stairway.

Now, with a high skylight in a new addition, an array of glassed-in meeting and study rooms, comfortable chairs and cozy corners, the library emphasizes natural light to the fullest and encourages users to enjoy its open spaces. Every seat and study carrel has complete wireless access.

Although the library looks high-tech with its computers and digital materials, “we made sure we took the best of the past with us,” Hunter said. The old tables have been refinished and repositioned for use by a laptop generation and there is even a gas fireplace ringed with armchairs in the new reading room. Designed by Ellenzweig Associates, Inc. architects, the renovation provides different arrangements for collaborative study, in keeping with the learning methods of today’s students.

In addition to serving as a science and engineering library, the library aims also to be a convenient study and information-technology center open to all students and faculty, Hunter said. On the first day of classes, more than 1,500 users made their way in, a testimony to the fact that library’s staff kept the building open and not forgotten during the entire three-year renovation process.

Inside, students now find a new state-of-the-art ITC computer lab that will allow them to take a project from the research stage to the finished product without ever leaving the library. A multimedia center offers scanners, digital media workstations, and other technology designed to teach students multimedia skills. An expanded electronic classroom will enable librarians to teach students the latest information-literacy skills. The library teaches an on-going slate of classes in how to find and use digital information, as well as how to create and use it effectively.

As part of the renovation, the library now has a new staircase and elevator to provide easy access to the collections of books and journals. The center portion of the main floor includes a combined reference and circulation service-desk, public computers for accessing VIRGO and online databases, comfortable seating, and restroom facilities.

The renovation is designed to assure that the library can offer its users the highest-quality service well into the future, Hunter said. “We’re a key part of the University’s strong emphasis on science, by offering the best possible library.”

Contact: Charlotte Morford, (434) 924-4254

FOR ADDITIONAL INFORMATION: Contact the Office of University Relations at (434) 924-7116. Television reporters should contact the TV News Office at (434) 924-7550.

SOURCE: U.Va. News Services

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Last Modified: Monday, 22-Sep-2003 15:52:03 EDT
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