April 3 is the official day for the grand reopening of Boreham Library at the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith, but UAFS officials say the impact of the facility will continue to be felt in the region for years to come.
The 1 p.m. ceremony on the steps of the Learning and Research Center addition to Boreham Library is just the beginning, according to Dr. Paul B. Beran, UAFS chancellor.
“Boreham Library is now a signature facility on the UAFS campus with the addition of the new Learning and Research Center,” said Beran. “Students will be better served with 21st century learning and study environments and with increased opportunity for traditional and online research. Beyond that, this new expansion will be a resource and support for this region’s economic development.”
The 40,000-square-foot library addition means an increase in several categories -- space for 93 percent more non-fiction, 120 percent more fiction, 26 percent more reference, 53 percent more audio visual and 33 percent more periodicals materials.
Seating has also increased, with reader seating going from 283 to 338, computer seating from 86 to 214 and classroom seating from 12 to 264. Added seating for the lounge areas totals 104.
On entering the first floor of the addition, visitors will see the Dr. Ted and Betty Skokos Commons. The Learning and Research Center also houses, on the second floor, the Doug and Kathy Babb Student Professional Development Center, consisting of high-tech teleconferencing space, conference rooms, online research capability and interactive presentation venues.
“This is a plus for both UAFS students and staff and for the community,” said Beran. “This space is devoted to advancing economic development in the region, a key part of our mission.”
Part of the project was a total renovation of the original Boreham Library space, which opened in 1987 with only four computers and three typewriters for students to use.
Beran said he hopes many in the community will join UAFS officials for the April 3 public ceremony, which will include a traditional ribbon cutting and words of acknowledgement, followed by tours of the building.
“The completed renovation and expansion of Boreham Library takes the campus to a new level in providing what is needed by students and by the community,” said Beran. “The entire region will benefit from what is to come.”
Dr. Ray Wallace, provost and senior vice chancellor, believes the academic side of the campus will greatly appreciate the offerings and the capacity of Boreham Library.
“A top university campus should have an excellent library,” said Wallace. “We now have that, as those attending the April 3 ceremony will see. The facility is inspiring and is one that will easily convince future students that this is the place to go for higher education and that UAFS is the place with the best facilities, the best learning environment and the best resources. This grand facility will also help us to continue to attract a great faculty to the University of Arkansas - Fort Smith.”
Robert Frizzell, director of library services, is excited about what Boreham Library now offers.
“The new building gives us the space we need to provide superior service to a regional state university,” said Frizzell. “The quality of the space is vastly improved -- welcoming, attractive, airy. And we are very excited about our new electronic discovery service. It will make searching for both electronic and paper library materials as simple as a Google search.”
The $14.2 million project has been funded with a $2 million grant from the U.S. Department of Commerce, $2 million in federal stimulus money from Gov. Mike Beebe’s office and $776,000 from Arkansas State Sen. Denny Altes through the General Improvement fund, as well as funds generated through a bond sale and a new student library fee.
The UAFS Foundation has also raised more than $1 million in private gifts, with several announced at the time of the groundbreaking in June 2011 and several others since that time. A private event will be held on the evening of April 3 to honor donors, according to Dr. Marta M. Loyd, vice chancellor for university advancement.
“Many forward-thinking individuals in the community have wanted to share in this significant construction project on our campus,” said Loyd, “and we know our students will see those named areas for years to come and know that they have the support of the community and the staff at UAFS.”
Loyd said there are still naming opportunities available in the facility, including spaces that house a reading room, study rooms and labs.
“This will truly be a grand reopening for us and for the community and one that will ignite enthusiasm about the possibilities for the future,” Loyd said. “Those who have toured the building so far have all indicated they wished they could return to being a student so they could study there.”
Architect for the addition and renovation has been MAHG Architecture of Fort Smith, with CDI Contractors of Little Rock as contractor.