Smiles warmed a chilly day in January when a crowd gathered for the groundbreaking of the new library at UT Chattanooga. The 180,000-square-foot facility should be completed in 2012.
The current Lupton Library opened in 1974 and housed 170,000 volumes, compared with 1.7 million items today. Back then the UTC student population barely topped 4,500 compared with 10,500 today.
The new $48-million building will be located on the corner of Vine and Douglas Streets, adjacent to Chamberlain Field.
Chancellor Roger Brown calls the library the heart of the university.
“Looking at our university, that’s almost certainly geographically true as our current Lupton Library lies near the campus heart.” This is not just a new building, Brown said, “but quite possibly the single most significant building on any campus.”
The library will be substantially different from its precursors in design and technology.
“There is much more to a library than a place to research and learn,” said Dr. Phil Oldham, provost and vice-chancellor for academic affairs. “I think that’s especially represented on our campus. Libraries have become gathering places for social interaction, for quiet contemplation with a book and a cup of coffee.”
The new library, a joint venture designed by -Derthick, Henley & Wilkerson and Artech, will be certified by the U.S. Green Building Council.
“The new LEED-certified library will be the first green building on campus,” said Theresa Liedtka, dean of the Lupton Library. “LEED stands for ‘Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design.’ The new building will feature recycling centers on each floor and loads of windows to take advantage of natural light, and it will use recycled water, to mention just a few of our green features.”
The library will have 60,000 more square feet than the Lupton Library. A renovation and expansion of the library has been on the UTC capital projects list since 1989. In 2000, the Tennessee Higher Education Commission found the current library building deficient by 58,575 square feet. Student learning styles and habits have changed significantly since the current library opened in 1974, and so has information research.
“The goal in planning the new library was to create a forward-thinking adaptable learning space that would serve the campus and the community for decades,” Liedtka said. “The entire building is designed with the robust infrastructure needed to support today’s and tomorrow’s technology devices, including more than 350 computers and 50 smart group study rooms.”
She said the new library will offer a 24-hour study space, quiet nooks and crannies, a café, an advanced computing center, presentation practice rooms, lounges, moveable shelving, art storage, a climate-controlled area for rare and valuable materials, instructional spaces, and more.
Tyler Forrest, student member of the UT Board of Trustees and SGA president, said students have been waiting a long time for this upgrade.
“The new UTC Library will advance the campus well into the twenty-first century. With added technology and enhanced services, the library will undoubtedly become the center of our already vibrant campus. We are very excited that it is almost here.”
More information about the library is available at wiki.lib.utc.edu/index.php/Library_Building_Project.