RSU Announces Plans For New Library Construction

Building will double existing size, add classrooms to meet growing enrollment

Rogers State University will begin construction this fall on a library that will more than double its current size and provide more educational opportunities for students.

The University of Oklahoma Board of Regents – RSU’s governing board – granted permission during its Wednesday meeting for university officials to solicit bids for the library construction.

“As the fastest growing university in Oklahoma during the past two years, RSU has significantly expanded its library holdings and services in order to meet academic demands and student needs,” said RSU president Joe Wiley. “Construction of new library facilities will not only provide much-needed room for properly housing our growing collection, but it also will serve as a focal point for students and area residents wanting to investigate the world around them.”

The three-story building will contain about 45,000 square feet, with the library occupying about 28,000 square feet on the building’s second and third floors. The first floor will contain classrooms and faculty offices.

The university expects to solicit and award bids for the new facility this summer, with construction beginning in the fall, said Tom Volturo, RSU vice president for business affairs. Construction should be completed in fall 2003 or early 2004.

Funds for the library project were appropriated in 1999 by the Oklahoma Legislature, but the project was on hold while other major projects, including the student residence hall construction and Markham Hall renovation, were completed.

The new library will be built on the west side of campus between the new student residence halls and Loshbaugh Hall. Three outdated buildings – the former physical plant building, the University Preparatory Academy building, and the RSU print shop – will be demolished to clear the site. The offices that previously occupied those buildings have been moved to different locations on campus.

The library currently occupies a 14,000-square-foot building that once housed the student union for the Oklahoma Military Academy, which was RSU’s predecessor institution. The library moved into the building in 1976, and the facility has not been expanded since that time, RSU library director Alan Lawless said.

Since RSU became a four-year institution in 2000, the library has expanded its holdings by about 5,000 titles annually – not including an additional 4,000 title stransferred from Cameron University, he said. The library now contains more than 50,000 books, 510 current periodical subscriptions, 4,150 videos, and 1,100 CDs.

“We have significantly added to our collection in support of the university’s mission to offer bachelor’s degrees, and the collection has grown by leaps and bounds during that time,” Lawless said. “We have filled every nook and cranny in this building. The new building will allow us to regain student study areas while still providing proper space to house our collection.”

Features planned for the new library include reading rooms on the second and third floors, expanded student seating and study areas, a classroom, campus and community meeting rooms, and consolidated offices for library staff. Another planned feature is acoffee bar adjacent to the reading room on the library’s main floor. This feature is intended to make the facility more user-friendly and encourage students and other patrons to fully explore the library resources.

In addition to its collection on campus, the library has access to 17,400 electronic books and 48 electronic databases (of which 22 offer full-text material including thousands of periodicals). The library provides high-speed Internet access at 24 computer stations, and the facility is open 85 1/2 hours a week while classes are in session.

Once the library construction is completed, university officials intend to convert the former library building back into a student union.