Changes and Renovations

Ginelle Desrochers Harbeson '97While no structural changes have been made to the interior of the Library, the usage of a number of areas has changed in the last three decades. Many of these changes have been due, either directly or indirectly, to the burgeoning volume of computer equipment on the campus.

The Library was the first building to have cabling installed throughout it, enabling access in July 1994 to the Biblion online catalog. While this could have been a difficult and expensive upgrade, the original design, which included large chases for wiring and cabling, made the job relatively straightforward. Numerous additional electrical outlets had to be installed throughout the Library, to support personal computers in staff offices and catalog, reference, and circulation areas. Electrical outlets on the study carrels on the upper floors had been part of the original construction and thus did not have to be added.

The basement space, which was originally used only for storage of periodicals and microforms, was then divided up in the mid-1990s to support the Academy’s IT support center when a local area network connecting all parts of the Academy was installed.

Several major renovations have occurred, primarily in the last 15 years. Substantial work was done from June through October 1990 on the roof, attempting to resolve persistent problems with leaking at the windows. As this work ultimately proved unsuccessful, a major renovation effort from March 2002 through February 2003 addressed the leakage problems. For much of this period, parts of the library were enshrouded in white plastic to ensure that any falling debris did not hurt passersby. The imposing structure of the Library resembled nothing so much as a large Christo installation.

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Changes in usage

Changes in usage have also occurred. The first floor mezzanine level (floor 1M), which had originally been all offices and faculty studies, is increasingly used by and for library staff. Floor 1M also houses a student computer lab, which is in constant use. Printers are available throughout the building so students and faculty can print out papers, as well as results of database searches and other research.

One of the most visible changes in the library has resulted from the installation in June 1994 of Biblion, the Library’s computerized catalog. As all of the Library’s resources have been added to the online catalog, the original card catalog now serves mostly as a beautiful artifact. Along the catalog tables, however, are ten computer terminals. Online access is now available to a variety of historical and reference databases, as well as to many of the Academy’s periodicals holdings.

Faculty studies on upper floors are mostly used now by part-time faculty who do not have their own offices. Special collections are also housed on upper floors, including the Robert H. Bates collection of mountaineering books and equipment on Floor 2M and the James H. Ottaway Jr./Bown Adams Silent Film Library on Floor 2.


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