EOU library to get $8 million facelift

By Dick Mason, The Observer July 22, 2011 08:44 pm

An artistís rendition of what a portion of the main floor of EOUís Pierce Library will look like after an $8 million renovation project is completed about a year from now.
An artistís rendition of what a portion of the main floor of EOUís Pierce Library will look like after an $8 million renovation project is completed about a year from now.

EOU’s aging Pierce Library, which turned 60 earlier this year, is about to turn the corner.

Pierce Library will soon become one of the most striking buildings on campus.

The library is set to receive a top-of-the-bookshelf, $8 million interior renovation. The work will begin in mid-September and will be completed next summer.

Anyone entering the library 12 months from now will find a modern-looking open building, one bathed in natural light. Its many features will include a second floor mezzanine and a striking view of Mount Emily from almost any portion of the main and second floors.

The renovations are intended to create a brighter, more spacious building, one both warm and welcoming.

“(The renovation) will open everything up. Students will have a gorgeous building,’’ said Tim Seydel, EOU’s vice president of university advancement.

The makeover will begin after all books and documents in its collection are moved out and stored at other sites on campus. Most of this work will be done in August and the first two weeks of September.

A portion of the work will involve removing the wall now separating the reading room from the periodicals section, which will be moved downstairs. This will allow the library to take full advantage of the expansive “grand’’ window the reading room and periodicals section now share. The window is a focal point of the present reading room, currently the most popular portion of the library.

“We will extend the atmosphere of the reading room to the entire library,’’ said EOU Library Director Karen Clay.

Plans also call for a large opening to be built all along the bottom of the grand window to provide significant natural light to the basement where most of the books and periodicals will be kept. A railing will be built along the opening on the main floor and and a balcony will be extend over it.

The renovation work will be financed by $8 million raised by the sale of state bonds. State Rep. Greg Smith, R-Heppner, played an instrumental role in getting the Legislature in 2009 to approve the sale of the state bonds for this project, Seydel said. The funding was threatened during this year’s legislative session but was secured after Smith and State Sen. David Nelson, R-Pendleton, stepped forward to make sure the state did not back away from its commitment, Seydel said.

David Lageson, director of facilities and planning at EOU, said the state encourages projects like the one at Pierce Library because they build on the foundation of campuses.

“We are improving on the investment, making better use of what we already have,’’ he said.

The renovation project is being designed by Allied Works Architecture of Portland. Fortis Construction of Portland will be the contractor. Fortis Construction was the general contractor for the renovation project a year ago at Eastern’s Inlow Hall. Lageson said one of the reasons the firm was selected for the library project is that it used many local subcontractors for the work at Inlow. It will be strongly encouraged to do the same with the Pierce Library project.

EOU students and the public will not be without library services while the renovation work is being completed. The former Ackerman gym will serve as the library during this time.

Renovation work is being done to convert the former gym into library space. The floor is being replaced, two restrooms are being installed, lighting is being improved and more is being done. The basketball hoops and bleachers were removed earlier.

“It is not a gym anymore,’’ said Lageson.

The temporary library will open Sept. 19, about seven weeks after Pierce Library closes July 29 at 5 p.m.

Most of the volumes in Eastern’s collection will not be at Ackerman over the next year but at other sites around campus including Quinn Coliseum. Anyone needing a book, periodical or document from the library collection will get it by making a request at the Ackerman site. A “page’’ will then retrieve it.

The former Ackerman gym will be used for other academic-related purposes after Pierce Library reopens. Lageson said the former gym, built in 1935, has been badly in need of renovation work for years.

Pierce Library, which opened in May 1951, has been renovated twice before now. None of the projects were as striking as the one about to be undertaken.

“This will create a new focal point on campus,’’

Seydel said. “It will be a dynamic new space.’’

He is looking forward to showing the renovated library to prospective students in the future. Seydel anticipates many will react by saying “Wow, (Eastern) is a place I want to be.”