Looking forward: Library construction to be complete in July

By Clayton Norlen

Renovation of the Marriott Library is scheduled to be completed by the end of July, just in time for returning students and staff to take advantage of the new space starting Fall Semester.

Construction began in March 2005 when the library was declared seismically unsafe, and the Utah State Legislature funded the $48 million necessary to start the updates. Since construction began, the collections and offices housed in the library have been moved throughout the building and across campus to accommodate the upgrades. All of the library’s services will soon return to a central location, said Joyce Ogburn, director of the Marriott Library.

“We’ll be glad to be back together as a staff,” Ogburn said. “It’s been tough being scattered around campus, and it will be good once we are back so people can start understanding all of our services.”

More than half of the building has already been turned over to library staff by contractors, so the library could begin re-occupying the space and providing services to students. The second half will be turned back in July, so staff can furbish and organize the space.

With the upgrades built during the past three years, the library should be able to survive earthquakes that register up to 7.2 on the Richter scale. To secure the building, contractors coated 350 steel support columns with 8 inches of concrete and added 12 buckling restraint braces outside the building to stabilize its shell.

The finished space will include a Knowledge Commons area that will provide collections of electronic information as well as computers, an automated retrieval system that can house more than 2 million periodicals, an Electronic Education Center featuring eight tech-based teaching classrooms and about 25 small rooms for group studying.

Some students said they are surprised the construction is almost finished.

“It looks like they have a long way to go,” said Andrea Busto, a sophomore in exercise and sport science. “I’m excited to be able to study anywhere without having to worry about construction noises.”

Throughout construction, contractors have had to wipe the working areas clean of existing electrical wiring, plumbing and insulation so they could start fresh and update the building at nearly every step of the building process. This allowed the library to meet the demands and standards of the 21st century such as adding more electrical plugs for computers, said Garland Brinkerhoff, site supervisor for the renovation project.

The renovation is being completed from the top down so construction crews don’t have to pull materials through finished space. On the fifth floor, the paint, stonework and bathrooms have been finished or are nearing completion. The fourth and third floors are being painted and will soon have carpet laid and stonework applied to the walls. On the second and first floors, construction is still in rough stages, but framing and drywalling will be begin soon.

The biggest obstacle through construction was maintaining a space that was still functional, Brinkerhoff said.

“It’s been a challenge working around the library,” Brinkerhoff said. “We’ve had to monitor our operations for dust and noise control, and those are a large part of the construction process.”

To keep up-to-date on library construction, visit www.lib.utah.edu and click on the Marriott Library Building Project link on the right side of the page.

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Tyler Cobb

The Marriott library is expected to be completed by the end of July. The remaining construction includes placing carpet, painting, stonework and drywall before the last half of the building can be turned back to staff.