Through the first set of doors to the Fine Arts Library is the front desk. To the right is a staircase to the vast library stacks, visible from the windows looking into the Eskenazi Museum of Art. Behind the second set of doors is the reference collection, nestled within a reading room full of tables occupied by students and several freestanding sculptures.
Since the opening of the I.M. Pei- designed art museum building in 1982, the Fine Arts Library has been the hub of a growing collection of reference and art- related material, including 130,000 volumes, more than 3,000 periodicals and more than 2,000 artists’ books.
The materials housed in the library will be relocated to the Herman B Wells Library possibly as soon as May 2017, according to Diane Dallis, associate dean for Library Academic Services. The move follows the donation of $15 million and nearly 100 works of art by Sidney and Lois Eskenazi earlier this year.
The museum will be renovated in anticipation of the bicentennial year, with the process set to conclude in 2020, according to a press release. The former Fine Arts Library space will then be integrated into the Eskenazi Museum of Art when it reopens.
Dallis said the original plan when the museum opened its doors in the 1980s was for the collection of fine arts materials to eventually be moved.
“I don’t think there was a good forecast of digital content we would have at that time,” Dallis said. “There was an agreement and understanding that the museum would need to grow, their collection would grow, and there would be a new home for the fine arts collection at some point in the future.”
The materials will be moved to the ninth floor of the east tower of Wells, and the library plans to begin renovations on this area around January 2017, Dallis said. Following the renovation, the books will be moved to the new location.
Dallis said an outside company will likely be contracted to move the materials in a timely fashion to the new location during the summer months to guarantee the materials’ continued use in the fall.
Dallis said though students may miss the bright natural light from the windows in the Fine Arts Library, the new space will allow a few benefits for students to have access to the material.
“Having that collection here in the Wells Library exposes that collection in a different way,” Dallis said. “We’re obviously a very busy building, we have literally thousands and thousands of visitors in a day. The fact that that collection will be housed with the larger research collections will actually be beneficial to a lot of people.”
Sophomore Jeffrey Kelegrand said the atmosphere of the space is what he will miss the most.
“I’ll probably miss it being quiet,” Kelegrand said. “It’s like a pretty remote space where people come to get away from the noise and everything that Wells has because it’s pretty busy at Wells. I like this location. It’s pretty quiet and I come here to study, even when I’m not working.”
Kelegrand said if the new space is also somewhat isolated, he can see it being a satisfactory location to study. That, with extended library hours at Wells, will make the new location preferable over the old.
“I guess most of the books will be all in one place,” Kelegrand said. “That’d probably be like the only benefit. “I just feel like having all the fine arts stuff here is better.”
In addition to increased hours, some of the other changes with the move will include subject specialist librarians, workshops and programming opportunities, and continuation of services available at the old location such as graduate student cubicles, instructional support and course reserve readings.
In terms of similar projects in the past, Dallis said usually the IU Library system actually closed libraries, such as smaller science libraries, and stored those materials off campus. These materials, when requested, can be brought back for student use or, in some cases, accessed online.
With fine arts reference materials, the books themselves are important, and that was a consideration in the decision to relocate.
“For the collections in the Fine Arts Library, their digital counterparts are not the same for the users of that collection,” Dallis said. “In terms of an e-book or a digital version of an art history book with beautiful plates and images, the print material is superior.”
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