April 1, 2011

Special Collections opens with new space, old books

[img id="78851" align="alignleft"]

Though the Mansueto Library will boast futuristic new tools, its newly-renovated neighbor will continue to offer a collection of ancient and rare texts.

The Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) in the Regenstein library reopened on Monday with new study rooms and a new entrance, with the aim of making the space more visible and accessible to the University community.

The construction of the Mansueto library and a new passageway necessitated a reorganization of the SCRC. That passageway eliminated the SCRC’s existing exhibition gallery and two offices.

Despite the new spaces, the collection will continue to include the same rare books, manuscripts and archives of different organizations and cultural movements.

Library administrators took the opportunity to make larger changes to the Center during the construction, said Director of the SCRC Alice Schreyer.

“The best thing is the reorientation towards the hallway [to the Manseuto] and the increased visibility that that gives us,” Schreyer said. She said that in the past, the center was not visible or welcoming.

Although the Center had been in an interim space since November 2009, the renovations began in August 2010.

While the small seminar room has remained the same, a new, larger room has been outfitted with better acoustics and more seating to allow for larger classes to look at books. Schreyer said she hopes the changes will encourage teachers to bring their classes in to look at materials.

Renovations also include a second study room to allow more students to work together.

According to Schreyer, the renovations help pursue the mission of Special Collections. That mission, she said, is “to share the unique and extraordinary material…to enrich the teaching and learning at the university.”

A new exhibition room will feature displays designed by faculty and graduate students. The first exhibit will be in place by May 9 for a “soft” opening of the Mansueto Library, which will not be fully operational until Fall 2011.