Booth Library Renovation
A rededication ceremony featuring national speakers, live music, building tours, storytellers and more was held at Booth Library on September 18, 2002. This ceremony officially rededicated the newly renovated library, symbolically marking the end of the renovation period. The library opened to the public on February 14, following a ribbon cutting ceremony and unveiling of Miss Booth's portrait. The library is named for Mary Josephine Booth, who served as University Librarian for over 40 years.
For help in finding materials
in the new Booth Library, please stop by the Reference Desk on the 3000
(main) level or call us at 581-6072.
Archival Renovation News
The 30-month project has gone smoothly thus far. The adjacent parking lot was the first area to be completed and has been in use since late fall. The penthouse to cover the mechanical equipment is in place on the roof and the cranes have changed the campus skyline since last summer. Steel beams have stood guard to the south throughout the winter, awaiting sunny days to become enshrouded by bricks and stone. Speaking of stone, the interior lobby walls have been polished and the exterior eaves and moldings have been power-washed, taking years off the appearance of one of central Illinois' historic buildings.
Inside, the future layout of the rooms has become quite apparent in some areas and almost complete in others. The ceilings have changed. Electrical, voice, and data openings are everywhere, awaiting the finishing touches by the trades persons. The stone wall of the original 1950 south facade, having been covered since the 1968 expansion, is now a feature of a central atrium. Natural light should flood the building from all directions, to include the new reading area on the lower level west and the grand space overlooking the new garden to the south.
The interior designers are hard at work consulting with library personnel, vendors, and potential bidders. An exhibit of several chairs, tables, office systems, and shelving components was held in January and February at the McAfee Branch. Questionnaires were developed to seek the opinions of staff and students using several criteria to judge each piece of furniture. Results showed that few opinions are universal and that people feel most strongly about chairs and how their own bodies fit into them while having little comment on characteristics of tables other than that they are functional or beautiful.
The renovated library will display collections and feature services with a new flair. In addition to making technology pervasive throughout the library, stack areas will provide more seating, media collections will be on open shelves, and a dozen group study rooms will accommodate on-campus learners. Equipment for disabled patrons will be increased and several additional services for the distance students and faculty who serve them are currently being tested and expanded.
Two special areas of the new library have been named thus far. The Coles Ballenger Teachers' Center will feature materials and services for K-12 professionals and pre-professionals. One-third of all Eastern students seek teaching credentials; therefore, it is appropriate that Booth Library maintains close contact with regional teachers, school administrators, those who help train future teachers, and students preparing to teach. An EIU alumna and former teacher, the late Florence Coles Ballenger, has endowed the center.
Governor Jim Edgar, another Eastern alum and Charleston native, has donated his papers and memorabilia to Booth Library. A seminar room and exhibit area off the main foyer will be named in his honor, and his materials will reside in the new climate-controlled area of the University Archives and Special Collections.
As final decisions for the furnishings are being made, library staff are busy planning the move home while they continue to offer day-to-day services and to seek ways to improve the offerings and remain current. Although it seems like nine months would be sufficient to sift out the remaining problems, it may be more difficult than it appears. Librarians and key staffers seem to come up with more and more wonderful ideas each day. "Hold that thought" seems to be heard routinely. Opportunities strike several times weekly and the challenge is deciding what to highlight and what to put on a list for later consideration.
Two years ago (and for 15 before that), Booth Library truly needed a good roof, dependable heating and cooling systems, an inconspicuous technology infrastructure, more space for both patrons and library personnel, and secure housing for collections. It looks like we may have hit the jackpot! Look for news and announcements to celebrate on our website: eiu.edu/~booth.
Moving one million print volumes and its shelving, 1.2 million microforms, 250 computers, 65 persons and their offices, and numerous machines of all sorts is not an easy task. Planning for the relocation took more than one year to complete; the actual move spanned 14 weeks, including eight weeks for the transfer of collections. The preparation of the temporary sites was most problematic due to the gigantic requirements for electricity and telecommunications compared to the former uses of these areas. Now library staff members have even greater respect for the people on campus who carry hammers and electrical testing equipment. A dedicated group effort has been most productive.
Library faculty and staff stayed in good spirits throughout the move despite daily obstacles inhibiting efficiency. Patience and understanding were tested constantly. The desire to finish the project and get ready for the fall term facilitated many complex decisions.
Communicating with Booth faculty and staff is much the same as in the past; all phone, fax, and email addresses have been retained. Any additional phone lines are posted on our website. Visit us in Charleston or at http://www.library.eiu.edu. Call the reference desk (217-581-6072) or the administration office (217-581-6061) for further information.