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University Of Virginia’s Special Collections Find A Special Home In New Library Building

August 26, 2004 -- After three years of construction, the University of Virginia Library’s newest facility begins welcoming the community with the inauguration of selected services in the new Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library.

While the new Special Collections Library is open now, the entire 72,000 square-foot building, including the Mary and David Harrison Institute for American History, Literature, and Culture, will be opening to the public in stages over the fall.

The building will be completed and fully operational in November 2004. It is located on central Grounds between Alderman Library and Peabody Hall, facing McCormick Road.

“We wanted to make our special collections materials available to faculty and students by the start of the semester,” University Librarian Karin Wittenborg said of the decision to open Special Collections before the rest of the building was finished. “Our vision for the U.Va. Library and all its facilities is, ‘easy access to superb collections and services in a welcoming environment.’ You’ll hear some noise and see some construction workers, but you’ll also be able to use Special Collections in one of the most beautiful reading rooms in the country.”

The Small Library, 58,000 square feet in two floors underground, features state-of-the-art climate control and security for the University’s special collections; a unique resource of 12 million manuscripts; 300,000 rare books; 4,000 maps; plus photographs, University archives and other treasures. The library features a stunning new reading room, skylights and comfortable seating. The collections themselves will be retrieved from 12.82 miles of shelving in 146 electronically controlled units on the first floor. (This floor is not open to the public).

University alumnus and long-time benefactor Albert Small made significant donations to the project, including a spectacular collection of historic documents surrounding the Declaration
of Independence. That collection will be on view in a permanent exhibition in November, when the entire building is open to the public and the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence Gallery is completed.

“Using special collections materials in teaching and learning is part of the U.Va. experience,” observed Mike Plunkett, director of Special Collections. “We’re delighted to make access to them easier and to support the University’s educational mission.”

The rest of the new building, comprised of the Harrison Institute, is equally noteworthy. The Institute, which will open in October, will offer exhibit galleries, studies for visiting scholars, seminar rooms and a 200-seat auditorium. “The primary goal of the Harrison Institute is to provide a central space for outreach programs and events using Library resources,” explained Hoke Perkins, director of the Harrison Institute and associate University librarian for philanthropy.

“The Institute will welcome visiting scholars; host conferences, lectures, and readings; and help foster collaboration between faculty and students.”

Outside the building, the University Landscape Architect’s office and a world-renowned design firm — Oehme, van Sweden and Associates — have created a dramatic but accessible new public space. Benches, trees, and a broad array of plants are being installed to provide a beautiful place for continued reading, learning and discourse among faculty, students and the community.

The Harrison Institute, the Albert H. Small Declaration of Independence collection, and special exhibits will be ready in stages throughout October and November. For now, hours of the new Small Special Collections Library are Monday through Friday, 9 a.m. to 5 p.m., and Saturdays 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Extended hours will begin on September 1, when classes start.

1. Downloadable images, a fact sheet and a digital version of this press release.

2. Fall semester hours for all Library facilities, including the new Harrison/Small building.

3. FAQs, information on Special Collections service schedules and updates on upcoming Harrison Institute programs.

4. Details on what’s available in Special Collections, plus links to online exhibits and other resources.

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: Wednesday, 02-Nov-2005 10:41:47 EST
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