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September 19, 2005

McHenry Library Addition to provide major increase in space, new features

By Louise Donahue

After 10 years of planning, the McHenry Library Addition and Renovation Project will take a a giant step toward reality when construction begins this fall.

sketch of library
This drawing from BOORA Architects Inc. shows the view of the completed library project from the southwest.

"We are very excited about the project,” said Acting University Librarian Bob White. “The Addition and Renovation Project will provide the campus with a 21st-century library and state-of-the-art research facility to support the instructional and research needs of UC Santa Cruz students and faculty."

To better serve library users, space at McHenry Library will be expanded by nearly 72 per cent, adding approximately 81,600 assignable square feet to the existing 114,000-square-foot library.

It will offer an array of features, including:

• An electronic research center with 60 electronic stations to access library resources.

• A visual resource center, providing access to electronic graphic files and image banks, 35 mm slides, and historic collections in various photographic formats.

• An instructional design center to help faculty make innovative use of technology in instruction and research.

• A “cyber study” room and café--an Internet café providing social gathering space and online access.

• Distance-learning facilities, providing support for students and faculty at remote locations, such as Silicon Valley.

• A film and music center, providing access to a wide range of nonprint media, including video and audio recordings, CD-ROMs, and DVDs.

For an update on other campus construction projects, see Construction Plans.

Construction will take about four years to complete, and will be done in two phases. The first phase, the addition to the existing building, will take two years, opening in 2007. The second phase, the renovation and earthquake retrofitting of the existing part of building, will also take two years, and is scheduled to open in 2009. The library will remain open throughout both phases.

“The new McHenry Library will also provide expanded, up-to-date facilities for Special Collections,” White said. “In addition, compact shelving will be utilized to more effectively store print materials, and library users will be able to connect to the campus network throughout the building by using the campus’s wireless network.”

There will also be additional electronic workstations and a number of group study rooms to foster collaborative learning.

Despite all the changes, White emphasized that the look of the library will not be diminished. “The expanded and renovated McHenry Library will retain the building’s distinctive architecture and the spacious entryways and patios that are so much a part of UCSC life. “

White also noted that the project will continue the campus's historical incorporation of the natural environment into facilities planning.

“The project has been very carefully planned so the library will continue to be surrounded by trees,” he said. “The landscaping plan includes new plantings of coast redwoods, flowering cherry trees, and coast live oaks. On the south side of the new McHenry Library there will be reading gardens where students and faculty can enjoy the natural beauty of the campus and access the campus network.”

In addition, White said, “there will be a terraced ‘great lawn,’ which will serve as a place to enjoy the outside ambience of the campus and also serve as a place for community and special events.”

Considerable efforts were made to protect as many trees as possible at the construction site, said Josephine Ortega, associate architect in Physical Planning and Construction. The impact on animals in the area was also taken into account, she said. The project’s consulting biologist required that trees not be removed right away after they were cut. Instead, the cut trees were left on the ground for 24 hours to allow bats and other wildlife living in the trees to go elsewhere. Earlier, the biologist had made sure there were no endangered or protected species threatened by the construction.

Some of the tree stumps and trees removed at the site will find new use as part of a stream restoration project on the Carmel River in Monterey County. The campus has been involved in ongoing restoration projects on the river, working with public agencies as well as the Carmel River Steelhead Association to help create fish habitat for sensitive aquatic species. (See November 4, 2002, article in Currents Online.)

More information on the McHenry Library Addition and Renovation Project, including frequently-asked-questions, is available online at


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