Johns Hopkins Gazette: September 15, 1997

The Makeover Of
The Eisenhower Library

Text by Christine A. Rowett
Photographs by Louis Rosenstock
The incoming class of 2001 might not realize some of the electronic advantages they have over their predecessors. But as the recent Hopkins arrivals venture into the Milton S. Eisenhower Library on the Homewood campus, they will encounter a facility with an emphasis clearly focused on the technology of today and the future.

The majority of work in the $4.6 million renovation project that began in March 1996, has been completed at the MSEL; a Digital Knowledge Center has been created, the Electronic Resource Center has been expanded and relocated, Internet access will be available at more than 500 locations, and the library's entire network infrastructure has been improved.

Some of the more tangible improvements to the library include new furniture, carpeting and lighting, a more efficient heating and cooling system, and handicapped access from the Charles Street entrance.

"We've created a much more positive working environment for faculty and students in the library," said MSEL Sheridan Director James G. Neal. "There is a whole different feel now. It's lightened up."

One big change at the MSEL is the pilot policy toward beverages, which were strictly forbidden in the past. Researchers may now bring drinks in closed containers into most areas of the library, excluding Special Collections.

"We figure people are here studying for long stretches of time," said M.J. Miller, associate director of development for the library. "We want them to feel comfortable here."

Miller said most library users do not spill drinks on books. Problems arise when things are spilled on tables and floors, then are not reported because they were not supposed to be there in the first place. If liquids are not cleaned up properly and right away, they will attract bugs, Miller said.

To encourage the use of proper containers, the library will give away several reusable hot and cold mugs at two open houses celebrating the library improvements. Light refreshments will be served, and library staff will be available for guided tours through the facility on Tuesday, Sept. 30, and Wednesday, Oct. 8, from 4 to 6 p.m. for all students, faculty, staff and alumni.

Among the significant changes:

M Level:

The Electronic Resource Center has been moved from A Level. There are 18 workstations with Internet access and a library staff monitor available for assistance.

The Reserves desk is located in an expanded area with the Circulation Department. Also, reserve materials may now be used throughout the public work areas of the library, as opposed to restricted areas.

A large information desk sits in front of offices for the on-duty reference librarian and the resource service librarians.

Current periodicals and newspapers that were formerly located on A Level may now be found at the south end of the floor.

The photocopy center has been consolidated and expanded.

A Level:

The Digital Knowledge Center for staff will offer a focus on research and development with information technology.

The public areas of Special Collections is being refurbished.

C Level:

Now known as the Science and Engineering Library, staffed by full-time science librarians. Graduate workstations have been replaced with larger, more comfortable carrels with power outlets.

A new book and lounge area has been added.

Immediate future plans include moving the Government Publications/Maps/Law Library from the New Engineering Building to A Level and installing a comprehensive sign system.

Neal said the disruptive work and continuing progress will be worth the efforts in the end.

"Anytime that you attempt to renovate space and maintain the use of that space, you are going to create conflicts," Neal said. "The library staff has been heroic, and the faculty and students have been extraordinarily cooperative. It is satisfying to see it coming to closure."

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