Sept. 22, 1999
University Library Opens Monday, September 27th
by Vinny Reda
Ten years in the planning, budgeting, constructing and now equipping, the newest addition to the University Libraries - a 142,430 square-foot, five story high-tech facility - opens Monday, Sept. 27, promising to serve as a 21st century resource for students, faculty, citizens of the region, and scholars from New York State and around the world.
A special "ribbon cutting ceremony," led by President Hitchcock, will be held on Tuesday, Oct. 19, to unveil the $26.6 million facility to the public, and to celebrate the first new academic building on campus in 30 years. It will also celebrate the private-public partnership that has made the project a reality.
“We planned our newest library building to be an inviting, beautiful and functional facility in which students and faculty may pursue research, discovery and collaborative learning with ease,” said Meredith Butler, dean and director of Libraries. “It was designed to serve both analog and digital needs and it should do that very well.”
Last year, more than one million people -- students, faculty, visiting scholars, community members -- used the University Libraries, which include the Uptown Campus Main Library and the Hawley Library on the Downtown Campus. Together, the University's libraries contain more than 1.9 million volumes and represent one of the top 100 university research collections in the country.
A decade ago, the campus realized that the Main and Hawley facilities were not equipped to face the new challenges of the modern library. The growth and transformation of information technology required new space and facilities for such features as on-line databases and integrated Internet access; and a campus whose student body had doubled since 1967 needed expanded library facilities of all types.
Accordingly, the new library is a multi-purpose building with a multitude of assets. In addition to allowing compact storage space for approximately 1.5 million print volumes — so that much needed study space will be restored and 600 additional user seats added to the Main Library — the new building contains:
a). A half-million volume Science Library on three floors with networked databases, bibliographic and full-text.
b). The University's Center for Excellence in Teaching and Learning, including the Instructional Technology Center.
c). Laboratory facilities for instructional technology, digital imaging, and information retrieval.
d). Electronic multi-media workshops and seminar rooms.
e). More than 500 seats for users, including individual and group study facilities with data and computing access.
f). The M.E. Grenander Department of Special Collections and Archives.
g). The Library Preservation and Digital Imaging Laboratory.
Said Butler: “With its advanced technology, its ubiquitous electric and data connections, its increased access to information resources, and its mix of individual and group study spaces and meeting rooms, the new library building should meet faculty and student needs well into the next century.”
Still, a challenge remains to complete the project. Although the cost of the new structure was allocated by the Legislature, an additional $3.5 million campaign in private support was launched last year. Its goal is to provide equipment and technology that will lift and coordinate the levels of all the University Libraries to the most modern and efficient capacity possible.
More than $2.1 million has been raised in the campaign thus far. The rest is within reach, because the Kresge Foundation has pledged $500,000 toward the $3.5 million goal - but only if $3 million is raised by Dec. 31 of this year. The push toward that last $900,000 in private funding is therefore now being made with renewed vigor.
“Being eligible for a Kresge Foundation Challenge grant brings increased visibility to our Campaign for the Libraries,” said Butler. “The funding we raise will allow us to complete the furnishing and equipping of the new building and to reorganize, upgrade and enhance the University Library.”
From benches ($2,500) to the entire building ($5 million), naming opportunities have been presented to potential donors as contributions to the UAlbany Library Campaign. To this point, Barnes & Noble Booksellers has been the largest benefactor, naming the library's Terrace Room for $300,000 and the entrance lobby for $200,000. Hans Naumann, chairman and CEO of Simmons Machine Tool who, along with the Dell Computer and Hannaford corporations, donated $50,000 for three 40-station digital workshops, is the largest individual contributor to this point. Alumna Edith Quake '63 ($10,000), the Class of '82 ($20,000), Friends of the Libraries ($21,500) and Advancement Associate Vice President Sorrell Chesin ($20,000) have been among the other generous donators.
by Vinny Reda
Libraries open up worlds of opportunities, but former University Libraries director Alice Hastings Murphy ’40 distinctly remembers one opportunity that wasn’t on the drawing board for the current Main Library when it opened its doors in 1967.
“The tennis coach called me and asked me if it would be all right for his team to practice in the basement during the winter,” she said.
The basement, crammed today with periodicals, microfilm, archives, audio, laserdisc and VCR equipment, and offices, was then empty. There were not even wall partitions. And the ceilings were pretty high.
So, the team was let in. “Yes,” said Murphy, “they had a great time down there.”
But Murphy was determined not to let this athletic-training feature persist, not when the University was building a research university of national magnitude. “I remember just after we moved in, walking one day into a ladies room and hearing one young woman say to another, ‘Well, I guess this University is not going to be proud of itself - with all this space and no books!’
“We knew that had to change, that millions of volumes had to be added,” said Murphy. “We hired a crew of bibliographers, specialists in the field, and in relatively short time got the job done. We acquired all the major periodicals in every field and became a serious depository of government documents. My goodness, we brought in documents from the Government Printing Office by the bale full. And we tore our entire Dewey Decimal System card catalog apart and converted to the Library of Congress system.”
at Albany Receives McNair Grant
By Carol Olechowski
A prestigious grant awarded only once every four years to each state has come to New York - and to the University - this year.
Albany, which has received the Ronald E. McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program's $760,000 award for New York, will apply the four-year grant to approximately 15 of its own students, as well as to 10 undergraduates from other State University of New York and Capital Region institutions. Those students will remain matriculated at their institutions while participating in the University-based programming.
The science- and mathematics-oriented McNair program, which benefits juniors and seniors seriously considering Ph.D. or M.D. study, aims to cultivate the professional career interests of high-achieving students of color. Distributed through the U.S. Department of Education, McNair funding supports research education courses; extensive individual career and academic advisement; tutoring; and graduate admissions and financial assistance. The program also motivates students through visits to local businesses; computer training; summer internships; seminars; and cultural activities.
Established in 1986, the McNair Post-Baccalaureate Achievement Program honors the memory of Ronald E. McNair, the physicist-astronaut who perished in the explosion of the space shuttle Challenger. The program seeks to increase the number of low-income, first-generation college students and minorities underrepresented in doctoral degree programs by preparing eligible undergraduates for doctoral study.
Assistant Vice President for Academic Affairs Carson Carr, who also directs the University's Educational Opportunities Program, submitted the proposal for the McNair grant on Albany's behalf. He said that one of the challenges in acquiring McNair funding for the first time is competing with past recipients that have accrued bonus points for each year they have participated in the program. “Our proposal had to be about letter-perfect to overcome the built-in lead several other colleges had,” observed Carr, who has been with the University since 1985.
President Hitchcock termed the receipt of the McNair award “a terrific achievement.” She noted that she was “especially pleased by the statewide consortium aspect of the program and the imaginative elements that emphasize the advantages of our University's ability to offer a distinctive, cost-saving 'consolidated structure' strategy.”
Hitchcock added: “I am so delighted to salute Carson Carr for his skill and diligence in conceiving and submitting a winning proposal to this national competition.”
Carr oversees the EOP, which provides admission opportunities for economically and educationally disadvantaged students of all races who are residents of New York and who wish to enroll in one of Albany's many undergraduate departments. A graduate of West Chester, Seton Hall, and Syracuse universities, he also has experience as a high school principal, a teacher of high school and junior high school mathematics, and a college faculty member.
In addition to writing the proposal that brought the University the McNair grant, Carr recently received a special New York State Assembly citation acknowledging him for his dedication to higher education and for distinguishing himself “as a leader in his role as Director of the EOP at Albany.” Carr was also honored with a University at Albany Excellence in Professional Service Award in 1992.