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Expansion brings more to Ekstrom Library than space

February 15th, 2006

The opening of the University of Louisville Ekstrom Library expansion will provide more than space for a library bursting at the seams. The expansion will open up new opportunities for the library to serve students and the community.

The addition of 42,500 square feet will allow the library to host more special events, highlight archival collections and be more accessible to students, said Hannelore Rader, dean of University Libraries.

Wasting no time, the opening will barely be completed when University Libraries take advantage of the opportunity to hold more events. On Feb. 21, Ekstrom Library, in partnership with the Muhammad Ali Institute, will host a book signing by artist Ed Hamilton. Hamilton will speak briefly at 5:30 p.m., and copies of his new memoir “The Birth of an Artist: A Journey of Discovery” will be available for purchase and signing through 7 p.m.

On March 7 Blaine Hudson will speak about the “underground railroad” at 3 p.m. Hudson has written two books on this topic, and the libraries have almost 100 publications on it.

Tentative plans call for a celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of civil rights activist and educator Lyman T. Johnson in June, Rader said, and more events will be planned throughout the year.

An exhibition on Johnson drawn from some of his papers in the library’s holdings will be on permanent display in the new wing beginning with the June event.

With some of the wall space in the addition fitted with archival display cases, more materials from Rare Books, Photographic Archives and the University Archives and Records Collection can be highlighted for library users to see, Rader said.

Rader said she is especially pleased that the library will have a secure 24-hour study area for students who need more library time and that the new wing will allow the library’s book collection to grow without having to move some books offsite.

With an automated storage and retrieval system, one of only seven such systems in the United States, “we don’t have to store the books 30 to 40 miles away, send for them when a student needs them and wait to have them delivered to campus,” Rader said.

The system will retrieve and deliver a book within one minute, while off-site storage retrieval can take a day or two, she explained.

Time isn’t the only savings, Rader said. The library also will save the cost of a courier service and security and library staff that would be needed to operate a remote storage facility.

Only lesser-used books will be stored in the automated system, said Diane Nichols, associate dean of University Libraries. The remaining books will be on the shelves.

“People still will be able to browse through the stacks,” she said.

The new wing of the library, which includes a new handicapped accessible auditorium, instructional lab classrooms, coffee shop and space for the McConnell Center and the Muhammad Ali Institute, will be opened at a 2 p.m. ceremony on Feb. 20.

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