The Charles Library is set to officially open to students and faculty in Fall 2019, university officials said at a hard-hat tour of the building.
Construction is set to be completed at some point in Spring 2018, said Joe Lucia, Dean of Libraries. Once construction of the building is completed, the university will relocate all materials from Paley Library into the new library, a process that could take months.
The four-story structure will feature a sustainable and visually intriguing design, while incorporating state-of-the-art technology Lucia hopes will revolutionize the way students use the library.
The library will feature a two-story room that will store 90 percent of the collection currently held at the Paley Library. Rather than picking up books directly from shelves, students will receive requested materials through an Automated Storage Retrieval System.
Materials will be located and transported using a “forklift-type mechanism” which will place requested materials in bins where they can be manually retrieved, Lucia said. Students will receive a text alert when their materials are available for pickup.
Library patrons will be able to view the ASRS through two large windows on the second floor of the library.
The storage system was chosen with the intent of providing more user space by compressing collection storage to about 35 percent of what it currently occupies in Paley, Lucia said.
The new library isn’t much larger than Paley Library in terms of square footage, but it’s designed to give students more space to study and collaborate. About 60 percent of the building will be user-friendly, Lucia said.
The remaining 10 percent of books not stored in the Automated Storage Retrieval system will go on shelves patrons can browse through.
The Student Success Center, which is currently located in the Tuttleman Learning Center, along with the writing center and all tutoring services, will relocate to the new library.
Lucia said he hopes moving these programs into the new library will enhance students’ learning experience.
“We are moving the writing center and all tutoring services from Tuttleman [Learning Center] into this building with the idea that we will be able to provide a lot of support for student learning and research in one place,” Lucia said.
Juan Decasanova, a freshman computer science major, anticipates he will enjoy the new space.
“I’m excited to see what the finished product is gonna be,” Decasanova said. “I see that they have been doing a lot of work.”
Other defining features of the library include a green roof and other sustainable design elements, like efficient heating and cooling systems. The green roof will be covered in live vegetation to manage stormwater and add a layer of insulation to the building.
Julia Mullin, associate director of facilities planning and capital projects, said the university received a loan from Pennvest to install the green roof and infrastructure.
“One of the biggest features of the library is the green roof,” Mullin said. “As far as I know, when it is constructed it will be the largest green roof in Pennsylvania.”
Lucia hopes the new space will provide students with an inspiring place to study, learn and share ideas.
“One of the concepts behind this building is for it to be an inspirational space,” Lucia said. “A space that students and others come into and feel really connected to that intellectual and cultural mission of the university.”
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