Designed to delight

More than 700,000 books are on the move at the University of Alaska Anchorage. Library staff members are preparing for the big move to the new addition of the Consortium Library, scheduled to begin Aug. 11.

The move into the new portion of the library will take approximately two-weeks, according to Stephen Rollins, the dean of the library at UAA.

Improvements within the new library include a music listening room, a digital library production center and an enhanced archive area.

A curved exterior, patterns of light and glass and an abstract bell tower on the roof were designed to make the library fit aesthetically into the 21st century.

The most unique aspect of the library’s architecture is the Foucault pendulum. Once set in motion, the pendulum follows the same path but appears to move in a clockwise circle due to the rotation of the earth.

“We believe this is the farthest north Foucault pendulum in the world and it is the only one in the state of Alaska,” Rollins said.

The UAA Alumni Association raised funds to pay for the Foucault pendulum located in the main staircase. It will be the focal point of the library, viewed from all three floors, as it swings above a platform inlayed with jade.

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“The new library will be bigger and more comfortable,” said Marsha Callaway, a UAA reference librarian. “The books will stay the same for a while, but there will be more computers, study areas and classrooms.”

The final phase of library construction will be the renovation of the current library structure. Everything from the old building will be temporarily squeezed into the new building to expedite the renovation.

“The [old and new] buildings will remain structurally independent of one another but will be connected by two bridges on the second floor and the skylights,” Rollins said.

The new building contains open spaces, and most of the offices and study areas have been placed around or near windows.

A large reading space, called the Great Room, is surrounded on two sides by three stories of glass. Southern exposure allows the sun to enter it all day. Outside the great room is the plaza. The plaza contains an amphitheater-like structure where students can hang out or gather for lectures or classes.

There will be 10 group study areas in the completed library next year, two of which will open to students in August with the rest being used as temporary employee offices. The third floor meeting room will also be used as office space during renovation. This area offers many multimedia capabilities, including PowerPoint and video, with a seating capacity for 50 people.

The new library also has facilities dedicated to preserving history.

“The new archive department is a specialized space and will be the most controlled area within the library,” Rollins said.

Security cameras and keypad access provide protection for the archive area protection and the historical documents housed there. The area has two refrigerated vaults for film and video preservation and a preservation lab capable of removing chemicals from the air.

The new library will also provide new partnerships between the university and community agencies. The Alaska Resources Library and Information Services, Alaska Moving Image Preservation Association as well as the Center for Advancing Faculty Excellence will be moving into the new library.

The consortium library is also the major medical library in the state of Alaska and the new building will provide a central location for the Health Science Library and offices.