Why is Chester Fritz Library (CFL) renovating?
CFL has not been substantially updated or renovated since 1981. Many things have since changed – in education generally, in students’ projects and assignments, in the tools faculty and students need for research, and more. For example, a little thing called the Internet got much bigger; students and faculty now do much research using online databases, e-journals, and e-books. They still need study spaces: in fact, libraries are more heavily used than ever, sometimes by a factor of 10 or more. Our students and faculty now need a whole range of different tools, in flexible environments that can support everything from quiet reading to working on a huge group project using Big Data, simulations, and virtual/ augmented reality. 21st century libraries seek to provide literal and figurative “spaces” where students and faculty can work on any kind of research project or assignment, and have easy access to the tools, services, and support they need. In the past, CFL has not kept up with all needs, and we’re trying to remedy this, to do our part to ensure students have everything they need to succeed in today’s rapidly changing world. Our students know what they need: in a 2014 survey, UND students listed “an updated library” with flexible, technologically equipped spaces as a top priority. We’re answering the call, and when this renovation is done, we think students and faculty alike will love the progress we’ve made!
Is this a full renovation of the entire Library?
No. We plan to renovate the full library over time, but for now, we are using existing funds to complete the renovation of 2 high-need areas. The first is the entrances. Everyone who has visited CFL knows how confusing it is to enter the building and be met with what is essentially blank space (with a few tables, chairs, and a U-Print station), staircases, and walls, plus an elevator that only travels 1 floor. The “action” seems to start on the 2nd floor, but you have to get there first! It’s confusing, and creates an awkward first impression. The signage as you enter is also awkward – many people have said that the arrow that indicates the direction to restrooms actually seems to direct you to the elevator. Secondly, we have issues with wayfinding that go beyond signage. It is not easy to find your way around the building. This may have something to do with the fact that CFL is essentially 2 buildings – an original 1959 structure and a 1981 addition. The original structure was easy to navigate; when you entered, you went straight up stairs to the main entrance. However, the addition caused many issues. Space was needed, but wayfinding does not appear to have been a major consideration at the time. Even the architects got lost in CFL when they first visited. It is currently difficult, despite our efforts with signage, to figure out where to find various services, and how to get there. We won’t fix all wayfinding issues with this renovation, but we will address the major circulation areas (traffic circulation in the building, not book circulation). This renovation is largely structured to deal with these 2 major issues.
We are also taking advantage of the fact that we need to tear up some areas to undertake other vital projects. Some are outside the project scope and funded separately, e.g. we’re using other funds to pay for a fire suppression/sprinkler system. We have nothing currently, beyond fire doors, standard alarms, and extinguishers. We are also doing some deferred maintenance, such as asbestos removal in 6 large areas. Details are below.
What areas are being renovated?
As part of this renovation, we will:
- Address major traffic circulation issues;
- Improve the north and south entrances;
- Install a sprinkler system throughout building;
- Upgrade the Reading Room (install additional power and data outlets, upgrade walls and ceilings, install new carpet, and remove asbestos from the ceiling and floor);
- Remove asbestos from floors and ceilings of all areas of CFL that will be renovated;
- Add a café facility on the ground floor; and
- Move UIT staff currently located in Memorial Union, Carnegie, and Twamley to CFL
Virtually all of CFL will see some work, whether it’s just the sprinkler system installation, or more.
UIT is moving to CFL?
UIT staff will move to CFL. All but the CIO, Madhavi Marasinghe, will move to CFL’s ground floor; the CIO’s office suite will be in Rooms 220/1. Until 2016, 220/1 were home to Library Systems, so they are well supplied with power/data. More recently, these rooms were a Media Viewing Room and then the temporary home of the Visualization Lab (which is still on-site). The Visualization Lab will have a permanent home on the 3rd floor, but it will also have a temporary 3rd floor space throughout the course of the renovation. We will not lose this important service. We are creating space for IT largely via the installation of compact shelving, which will allow us to house government documents, bound periodicals, and microform collections in less than half their current space. Government Documents & Periodicals staff will remain on the ground floor, but relocate nearer the compact shelving housing these materials after the renovation. Staff from the Library’s former Systems unit, which in 2015 was renamed Library Digital Initiatives, Systems, & Services, had been on the 2nd floor, then moved in 2016 to the ground floor, and will now return to the 2nd floor.
What’s this I hear about compact shelving?
Compact shelving will be installed on CFL’s ground floor; upper floors cannot hold the weight of the shelving and its contents. Compact shelving will be located in 2 areas – the area currently occupied by bound periodicals (which will be open to all users), and the “vault” area, which is a staff-only storage area. Bound periodicals, government documents, and some microforms (the aggregate term for microfilm, microfiche, and microdot cards), will be kept in openly accessible compact shelving; we will house near-rare books and unprocessed archival collections in staff-only space, with more microforms.
Who was consulted?
In 2014, a student survey indicated that an updated library was a top priority. Students wanted flexible, technologically sophisticated spaces, updated equipment, space for video recording, more group study space, some quiet space, more power/data outlets, updated/better collections, more hours, and a café. In 2015, consultants and architects visited UND to discuss student and faculty library needs. They held many open fora, and met with campus groups. A CFL Master Planning Group was created, and met many times with consultants, users, and others. There were meetings with faculty, staff (including library staff), and students. In 2016, the architects returned to campus and held over a dozen meetings with various groups, including open sessions. In 2017-2018, the University Senate Library Committee, including faculty and student representatives, was further consulted; the Chair, Dr. Marcia Mikulak, and a student representative met with the architects and Dean Walker. Consultation has been extensive.
Where’s the art?
We temporarily removed art from CFL to keep it from being damaged during construction and asbestos abatement. Most pieces were taken by Sarah Heitkamp, UND Art Curator, and safely wrapped and stored in climate controlled conditions in the Skalicky art repository. The largest pieces – the sculpture and mural in the Reading Room – will be stored in the Core Library in climate controlled conditions. We are also using this opportunity to have preservation work done, thanks to the Myers Foundation. CFL appreciates the assistance of Sarah Heitkamp and Donovan Widmer (Chair of Art & Design).
Will CFL close at any time during renovations?
No. CFL will keep its usual hours. We will have to close certain areas at various times. For example, during asbestos abatement, we’ll close each area, one at a time, while work is being done. We’ll have temporary walls in some areas. We will try to leave services as unaffected as possible, and the library itself will remain open throughout.
Will we lose access to any collections during the time of the renovation?
Yes, though we’ll try to minimize this. Access to digital collections is unaffected. In terms of physical collections, we’ll have access to most materials. All collections located on the 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors will be available, except for some state documents. All circulating collections will be available. Reference items on the 2nd floor will be available. All CD, DVD, and Blu-ray collections will be available. Archival collections are unaffected. However, these 3 major collections will be stored on-campus: 1) federal and state government documents; 2) microforms; and 3) bound periodicals. Many of these are available digitally, and we will have access to these. We have also purchased many journal backfiles, though it is prohibitively costly to replace everything, at this point. For materials in storage that we can’t get digitally, we’ll offer enhanced interlibrary loan (ILL) services – see below.
If government documents, bound periodicals, and microforms are in storage, how will access this information?
Access to federal and state government documents in print, bound periodicals, and microforms will be affected; these collections will be moved to on-campus storage for the entire renovation. These are our lowest-use collections, and we will ramp up interlibrary loan (ILL) service during renovations. We cannot guarantee a specific speed of service, as it depends on how quickly partner libraries respond as well as on our own service, but it’s worth noting that we often get scanned articles in 1-2 days. For faculty concerned about charge-backs for items where the lender bills over $25, we will cover ILL costs for items we own but can’t access. We’ve requested access to stored material in emergencies, but these will be in (labeled) boxes, stacked, in an area not accessible at all hours, to which CFL has no key. It is secure and climate-controlled, which we consider vital. If we must get access, we will request it via Facilities; this will take several days. We hope to avoid this, and will do our best to supply items via ILL or digitally.
What’s the renovation schedule?
Construction preparation has begun, as of November 2018. Asbestos abatement will begin in December 2018, followed by construction of temporary walls to allow access to various areas while construction is ongoing. Actual construction will begin in February/March 2019. Compact shelving will be installed in November 2019, and the entire project will be completed by early 2020.
Will group study rooms be available during renovation?
We will temporarily lose access to group study rooms in the basement, and some rooms on other floors may be too close to construction for use. However, we will keep as many study rooms as possible open, and will have additional study space in the large, newly open area next to the Reading Room. The Reading Room will also need to be briefly closed (a few days) for asbestos abatement in December or January. We will do our best to minimize disruption.
Where can I see a copy of the renovation plans?
We are still finalizing details on some areas, but at present, you can come to the Library Administration offices to see a copy of the latest version of the plans. We hope to be able to post final plans shortly.