A new library project leaves the future use of Paley Library in question.
Thanks to a recent Board of Trustees’ approval, Temple will have a $17.5 million design budget for its new library on Broad Street. Meanwhile, students and faculty attempt to tackle the obstacles facing the existing 46-year-old Paley Library.
Documents related to Temple’s 20/20 plan describe the new library as a “signature building,” for both university and community use.
In September 2011, President Ann Weaver Hart told The Temple News that Gov. Tom Corbett had approved a special appropriations of $50 million to “lay the groundwork for the library.” Funding for the project will consist of $140 million from the state, including $90 million in past and future annual capital grants, and $50 million from bond debt, university communications confirmed.
Now, with the trustees’ green light, officials can begin to work with the Pennsylvania Department of General Services, create a preliminary design and find an architect for the building.
“That will involve the creation of a vision of what a library should be today, and 50 years from now, because as you know, Paley was new at one time,” Carol Lang, interim dean of University Libraries, said.
Paley Library was completed in 1966 and was modeled after book warehouses of the time.
“At that time they probably never thought that students would need loads of electrical outlets to plug in their phones and their laptops,” Stephen Bell, associate university librarian, said. “So, if someone’s planning today to think about the possibilities of trying to imagine what a student would need 50 years from now, it’s quite a challenge.”
“At this point, what we’re doing is a lot of research [with] teams who’ve designed libraries before,” Margaret Carney, university architect, said. “Building libraries today means very different things than it did in the past.”
Bell has made trips to other academic libraries, including those of the University of Rochester, Ohio State University and the Penn State Harrisburg Campus, to see what features could become part of the new library. Bell mentioned the possibility of increasing the number of flex-study spaces.
Paley is planning to move its Special Collections to the space currently occupied by the Urban Archives on the ground floor, making one large Special Collections Reading Room.
“There’s some things we’d love to do here. But now with the new building on the horizon, we don’t want to put resources into expensive changes here that…they’d have to change everything again somewhere down the road,” Bell said.
A common complaint from students is the layout of Paley’s stacks.
Zack Groff, Temple Student Government director of the Academic Affairs committee, is a member of the Student Library Advisory Board.
“Overall, we all kind of agreed that it would be a good idea to bring in a consultant with specific knowledge on those kinds of things,” he said. “Not a marketing person, but, a graphic design person or someone who specializes in interior design.”
He said some issues in Paley, like noise levels in study areas, are things that students can most effectively address themselves.
“I don’t think that the solution is hiring more security personnel [to control noise]…I think that students are able to be a little bit more proactive,” Groff said. “Everyone has different ideas of what a public space is. I have taken more of an issue, when I’m in the library, trying to just focus by myself when I’m on the third floor with people bringing really aromatic food up there.”
Fellow SLAB member Gabrielle Nichols does not mind the smells when “you need energy to keep studying.”
“There’s obviously been want for more computers, more wireless printers, spaced out different, more study rooms, the issues of quiet sections versus group sections,” Nichols, the TSG director of the University Pride and Traditions committee said. “Hopefully, with a new library, we’ll be able to create a set-up that makes distinctions and makes everyone have a happier study space.”
Nichols said she does most of her studying in Paley, and uses the facility “daily, if not more.”
“Actually, I calculated one time and I spent more time in the library than in my apartment,” she added.
Nichols jokingly referred to herself as a member of “Team Paley” versus “Team TECH.”
“We have resources in this university where we could get help at low cost, or even totally for free, just to discuss, you know, ‘What would make more sense to the common student?’” Groff said.
Bell and Lang said the new library will need to balance students’ needs for books and other print media, as well as increasing supplies of electronic and online content.
Carney said Temple has given the Department of General Services a set of requirements for the building, including approximately 300,000 square feet of space for programs and general use.
“The requirements we’ve given them are very preliminary,” Carney said.
The new library is set to be located at Broad and Berks streets, where the Student Pavilion and a parking lot currently sit. The pavilion is to be removed after the completion of the renovated Pearson and McGonigle halls.
“That kind of a site would only be given to a very important building,” Carney said, calling the move a big “statement.”
Groff and Nichols were each surprised at the decision to move the new library away from the center of Main Campus, considering, as Groff pointed out, the majority of academic buildings used by undergraduate students are not on Broad Street.
“From my understanding of the 20/20 vision…there is a lot of undeveloped land the university already owns that they want to build up, rather than expand,” Groff said.
All books will be taken from Paley and the building will be repurposed for other uses.
“We don’t have specific answers to what will the building will look like or what features will it have,” Lang said. “That vision is going to be kind of brought to life during the design phase, and we do know that a cross-section of campus will be involved in those discussions.”
Temple presently has no completion date for the new library.
Amelia Brust can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.