Northwestern President Bruce Murphy has initiated the formation of the new Library Program Task Force. The task force will develop an architectural design and a use plan for a new library building that will best serve campus needs.
The task force is made up of 12 representatives from the faculty, staff, student body and local community. Current objectives of the task force include organizing information and supplying ideas for the new building. According to Library Director and Co-chairman of the task force Dan Daily, the team is “a good group who is very open minded and inquisitive.” Daily sees these attributes as a major asset for creating a comprehensive vision of the new library.
This wide variety of representation within the task force is only one of the ways multiple views will be examined. Co-chairman Dr. John Brogan wants to use the task force to collect ideas and information from “different divisions within the academic areas.” In this way, every department will be able to voice its needs and concerns. There may also be opportunities for the entire campus community to contribute their opinions and ideas.
While these numerous opinions may differ, there is one issue on which all agree: Ramaker Library needs more space. Completed in 1963, the building is not large enough to comfortably house its books, study carols, and computer stations. Individual study areas bleed into group study sections—making it difficult for some students to concentrate.
Student representative Kim Boersma said it was important to “figure out what kind of programs and equipment that we need and how to translate that into space needs.”
New information technology now allows access to valuable databases containing massive amounts of electronic information that Northwestern could never physically house in a building. This information is useless if students cannot easily access it.
Many students wish the library provided more technological services. Student representative Nathan Willems would like more computers in the library.
Technology is an issue of such importance that there are proposed plans to house Computing Services in the new structure. Daily is excited about this development and is looking forward to exploring the question, “Where does information technology complement books?”
Combining the library and Computing Services would not only centralize information but also open up new possibilities. Daily envisions an electronic space to archive students’ writing or even publish a semi-scholarly student journal.
Of course, all of this electronic space must be housed in a physical location. The task force will travel to various newly constructed libraries to discover the best layout for a new library at NW. Any design must fit into the space allotted on campus, which will likely be where Granberg Hall and De Vries Cottage are currently located.
Structural plans will not be available until the task force hires an architect. Whatever firm is hired will have no small task, as the new library and computing center is the most ambitious building project NW has ever undertaken. Brogan estimates it will cost anywhere from $18 to $25 million dollars. If the Development Office is able to raise sufficient funds quickly for an approved plan, ground breaking could take place in three years. However, Brogan cautions that this outlook is very optimistic.
The immediate goal of the task force is to present an architectural proposal to the board of trustees by this spring. However, the main purpose of the task force is to imagine.
“I like dreams,” said Brogan, who hopes to shape “a building that will be beautiful to look at, that will be state of the art, [and] that every faculty member and student will be proud of.”