Half of Pollak Library South will be inaccessible to library patrons for at least three years, estimates interim university librarian Scott Hewitt, Ph.D.
Floors one, four, five and six of the southern portion of the library were devastated by the 5.1 magnitude La Habra earthquake that rattled the campus in late March.
“Without a large infusion of money, there is nothing that can be done about the ceilings on the first floor and the fourth through sixth floor,” Hewitt said.
The library book-paging system, implemented to retrieve books from the damaged floors in the spring, will continue until renovations are completed. Books in high demand will be moved from the closed floors to the basement where they will be accessible to patrons. This will reduce demand on the book-paging system, freeing up library employees for other duties.
Most of the books should be moved and available for browsing by the beginning of the spring semester, Hewitt said.
Floors two and three of PLS had already been renovated several times and brought up to updated construction standards, so damage from the earthquake was minimal and has already been repaired.
The rest of PLS had ceilings that had not been renovated, and were not up to current construction codes. This caused heavy damage to ceiling tiles and lighting fixtures that were not fastened to the floor above like the ceilings on the other floors.
The library sustained about $6 million in damage from the earthquake, according to data from the Orange County Board of Supervisors.
“The cost to fix this problem is prohibitive, especially as the building will be renovated in several years,” a statement from the university read.
The university is still in the very early phases of planning for the renovation, said Hewitt, who assumed his post on Aug. 4, 2014.
It would cost $2 million to stabilize the ceilings in all four damaged floors, $500,000 per floor. That cost would simply remove the damaged ceiling sections and would not allow for new ceilings.
A more concrete timeline for renovations should be drafted by the end of the semester, Hewitt said, but that depends on how long it takes to stabilize the library and come to an agreement on what renovations will entail.
Cal State Fullerton has been moving forward on the Library of the Future project since before the earthquake. University administrators developed a mission statement in May which includes an emphasis of student spaces and services.
In order to provide more space to students, the library will be paring down its collection of books by moving portions of it to other libraries and increasing use of compact shelving.
A large portion of the renovated library will be devoted to seating, since the library is below the national average for student space.
“On the one hand, being below the national average may not be the worst thing at a campus where you have a lot of commuter-type students,” Hewitt said. “But come finals time, there’s no seats available, so we need to have more seats.”
The library also plans to add as many seats as the fire code and occupancy limits allow between now and finals week.
More of the campus’ five cultural centers will also call the library home. Currently, the library houses the Chicana and Chicano Resource Center and the Titan Dreamers Resource Center.