Johns Hopkins Gazette: March 25 1996

MSEL Digs In For Major Renovations

Facelift: Improved Electronic Resource Center 
will enhance access to library collections, 
campus network system.

Christine A. Rowett
Homewood News and Information

     It may be a challenge to find the normal peace and relative
tranquillity of the Eisenhower Library during the next several
months. But the powers behind the expected drilling and disarray
believe that when the dust finally settles, library users will
appreciate the improvements.

     A $4.6 million renovation project at the Homewood campus's
Milton S. Eisenhower Library, built in 1964, began earlier this
month; work is expected to be complete by August 1997. 

     One of the most significant improvements, said library
director Jim Neal, will be the upgrades to the facility's
electronic capabilities; M-Level will house an improved
electronic resource center and classroom. The library will also
create a digital production center for collaboration with
academic departments. Hundreds of connections to the campus
computer network will be available throughout the building to
users with portable PCs. 

     "We're tooling ourselves for the technology of the future,"
Neal said. "The technologies of libraries have changed rapidly,
so we have to upgrade."

     Some of the more noticeable changes, Neal said, will be the
reorganization of materials and services within the library. On
M-Level, the information desk will be moved and linked more
closely to the reference area and librarians' offices. 

     The rare book collection will be moved from A-Level to an
environmentally controlled shelving area on D-Level. The special
collections reading room and staff offices will be refurbished
and remain on A-Level. 

     Science and engineering materials will remain on C-Level;
services will be reorganized and consolidated. Another
significant change will be the return to the MSEL of the
Government Documents, Maps and Law Department that has been
housed in the New Engineering Building for the past several

     "As it is, the library is a difficult place to get around,"
said Ed Rosenfeld, associate director for programs and renovation
project manager for the library. "We're bringing some order to
the space. Services will be more apparent and more identified."

     Members of the library staff will experience some major
changes as well. The computer systems office has already been
moved to Krieger Hall, where it will remain; other staff offices
will be displaced temporarily. The Garrett Room will be shut down
through the fall semester for use by the Interlibrary Loan and
Reserves Departments. 

     In addition to making service and aesthetic improvements,
the renovations will provide compliance with the Americans with
Disabilities Act and necessary safety measures. The heating,
ventilation and air-conditioning system will be overhauled and
some asbestos will be removed.

     "The net result here is for the next 16 months the library
is going to be very disrupted," Neal said. "As we move services
and close down areas, we're going to see the creation of some
very noisy conditions."

     Neal hopes that keeping users informed of upcoming work will
alleviate some stress.  The as-yet-unnamed renovation project
mascot, a book donning boots and an appropriate hardhat, was
designed by Harold Dinkel in the cataloging department. It will
alert library users and staff with weekly notices on the large
bulletin board on Q-Level. Updates on the renovation plan also
will be posted regularly on Milton's Web, the library's Web page
at .

     "If we can keep people informed, I think we can reduce, not
eliminate, difficulties," Neal said.

     A committee of library staff, students and representatives
from the Dean of Students Office is being established to consider
alternative study sites during the renovation, Neal said.
Rosenfeld said earplugs will be available at the circulation
desk. However, "that's not a solution, it's an element," he said.
"We want to minimize the inconveniences to readers and staff."

     To that end, Rosenfeld said, the noisiest work will be done
overnight or in the early morning hours when possible.

     The project is the result of a "very large expansion plan"
discussed several years ago, Neal said. Instead, however, the
Moravia Park Off-Site Shelving Facility, located about 20 minutes
from the Homewood campus, was created to ease crowding and to
provide additional space at the MSEL. (Low-use materials are
shelved there in a climate-controlled building and are available
to students, faculty and researchers by request.)

     "What was a $20 million plus project is now a $4.6 million
project," Neal said.

     Funding for the project is coming from the state and private

     Neal believes the advantages of the renovations will far
outweigh the temporary inconveniences; he is also confident that
users will feel the same way.

     "[They] will see a more modern facility and a better service
environment," he said. "What we're hoping to create is a more
intuitive approach to the design of the services in the building,
a fresh feel and improved organization."

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