SFSU Magazine Spring/Summer '04: Extreme Makeover

The cover of the spring/summer 2004 Issue of SFSU Magazine


SFSU Magazine Online, Spring/Summer  2004, Volume 4, Number 1.

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An architectural model of the future University library as seen from Holloway Avenue.

Brenda Malvini, an SFSU music and business major, works at the exit check at the University's J. Paul Leonard Library. It's a busy job. Tens of thousands of students flow into the library every week. She enjoys the fast pace of her job and the academic atmosphere inside the library. "Everyone else is so diligent, it makes me study more," she says.

The job takes up a lot of Malvini's time during the day so she appreciates the convenience of the extended-hours computer lab and quiet study area. She feels safe studying there late at night and adds that the study areas are a great place to cram for finals. But with SFSU's current student body of nearly 30,000 full-and part-time students, these and other areas in the library fill quickly. Space is at a premium and lines at the computers and copy machines can be frustrating.

There is light at the end of the tunnel, however -- or more specifically, at both ends of a new grand corridor.

Plans are currently under way to remake the library into a state-of-the-art facility with dramatically expanded and aesthetically inviting study areas, and an increase in space by half again its current size. A stunning new glass facade will invite students, faculty and visitors to enter while providing both natural light and a panoramic view of the quad. Students can catch up with friends or enjoy a cup of coffee at the library's new coffee bar, which will be easily accessible from the quad or the grand corridor spanning the entire first floor.

Groundbreaking is tentatively set for early 2005, beginning with the demolition of the adjacent Franciscan building. Upon the project's completion, slated for 2008, patrons will be able to find what they need easily and will have a comfortable, welcoming space for study and interaction, says University Librarian Debbie Masters.

The renovation is long overdue. Thanks to a series of additions to the original building and subsequent reconfigurations of collections and service areas following the 1989 earthquake, the layout has evolved into something at best unconventional, at worst inefficient and confusing. The effects of time and heavy use have also taken their toll. The library lacks the infrastructure for contemporary telecommunications and information technology, and its mechanical, heating and ventilating systems are in need of major repair. In addition, the building does not meet current seismic safety requirements.

The $100 million makeover, funded primarily by the Governor's Economic Stimulus Package passed in 2002, as well as anticipated private support from alumni, friends, and philanthropic institutions, will include a seismic retrofit, the installation of the new automated Library Retrieval System, a new entrance on Holloway Avenue, and the relocation of the Sutro Library (a branch of the California State Library) and Labor Archives and Research Center, both of which are currently located on Winston Drive, about a mile away. "Increased capacity as well as environmentally appropriate conditions will enable us to integrate these wonderful collections into one all-inclusive central library," Masters says.

Johanna Canale (B.A., '57; M.A., '76), a retired teacher and counselor and a generous supporter of SFSU, established the Joseph and Isabella Canale Endowment specifically to support the enhancement of the library's facilities. "The library is the focal point of learning," Canale says. "I wanted to give in a way that would most benefit the entire University. It was the most meaningful way I could honor my parents' memory. They shared a deep respect for the University and the progressive education it afforded me as an undergraduate and graduate student." It pleases her, she says, to bring the Labor Archives and the Sutro Library collections into the new building and to "make them safe and sound and available in an inviting manner to students and visitors doing research."

According to Masters, the new floor plan will dramatically change the current building -- one that has been built piecemeal over the years -- into one that is seamless. From hallways to stairways, study carrels to rest rooms, the current building will be completely renovated. The new library will provide significantly more space for both individual study and collaborative work, more than twice as many computer stations, and extended open hours in the commons area on both the ground and first floors. A skylight will provide natural light through four floors in the center of the building, providing a logical point from which newcomers can orient themselves.

Having a first-rate library is vital to the University, Masters says. Because so many SFSU students commute to and from campus, the library is "the hub of activity, both socially and academically. The library truly is and will be the heart of the campus."

-- Tracie White

In the library of the future, the books come to you.

For more information: www.library.sfsu.edu/building
If you would like updates about the library expansion and renovation, please complete and return the envelope enclosed, or e-mail the library at newlib@sfsu.edu. For information about ways that you can support the library building project, including opportunities for naming, please contact Carole Hayashino, associate vice president, University Advancement and Development, at 415/338-6598 or caroleh@sfsu.edu.