Fall 2003
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Upcoming library projects

  • The library's reference area will be renovated, furnished and named the James B. Nutter Sr. Family Information Center. The 20,000-square-foot renovated area will promote student scholarship by providing a rich collection of print and online information resources along with the software tools and expert guidance necessary to employ these resources. The facility will allow students to work in groups or individually, and will feature 101 desktop, standing and multipurpose computer learning stations, 66 soft-seat workstations, 21 small meeting/group study areas, and several adaptive stations for disabled students. Construction start date: December 20, 2003.
  • Renderings have been presented for new furnishings in Ellis Library Reading Room 201 and include new office and lounge furniture, carpet, and sealed cases for some of the Rare Books collection. MU Libraries is seeking a donor to fund the project.
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Reading Room renovation reveals long-hidden details

One Design & Construction Services job quite often leads to another, and that’s exactly what happened at Ellis Library.

Cyndi Bodnar Spratt, interior design associate I, was assigned three years ago to update the North Colonnade of Ellis Library, and she’s been working ever since with MU Libraries officials on plans for updates throughout the building.

“We realize she’s got other work to do on campus, but we plan on keeping Cyndi busy at the library for a long time,” said Bob Almony, assistant director of MU Libraries.

Photo: Painter Todd Curnutte paints ceiling molding.
Painter III Todd Curnutte paints molding on the ceiling of the Ellis Library Reading Room, March 4, 2003.
Details make the difference

D & C S earlier in the summer finished the second floor Reading Room, where Spratt highlighted the architectural detail of the walls and ceiling by choosing several different paint colors instead of the one cream-colored paint that had been used since Ellis Library was built in 1916. The color-scheme chosen for the Colonnade, which was funded primarily by Friends of the Library, will be carried throughout most of the traditional renovated areas.

“The library is a traditional space so I chose classic colors that wouldn’t be out of date in 10 years,” Spratt said. “The color scheme also echoes some of the old book bindings I ran across in doing research for the project.”

What started out as a Maintenance project to repair plaster and freshen up the room with a new coat of paint, turned into an opportunity to liven up an expansive room that has wonderful natural lighting and plaster details in the ceiling that were virtually unnoticed before. (Click here for a closer look.)

“By pooling gift funds from the library and Maintenance funds, we were able to make the most of the money, manpower and equipment,” Spratt said.

Photo: Design & Construction Services paint and plaster crew.
From left: Ron Jones, Clay Oswald, Richard Brown and Todd Curnutte, along with Mark Perrigo, not pictured, plastered and painted the Ellis Library Reading Room, March 11, 2003.

The project turned out to be one of the most extensive paint jobs ever assigned to D & C S painters. Plasterers had their work cut out for them in recreating details of the original plaster, which literally crumbled to the touch.

Plasterer Clay Oswald molded and poured a new key to place over one of the arched windows. Though the crew knows which one it is, it’s a true match that won’t be detected by most visitors, said supervisor Michael Kenney.

“It’s been this year’s pet project for the painters. They’ve taken personal ownership of it and are proud to be a part of changing the room’s entire look,” Kenney said.

Historical photo of Ellis Library Reading Room, courtesy of University Archives.
Ellis Library Reading Room. Photo courtesy of University Archives, C:/1/40/1.
Scholarly space

Archive photos indicate the room has changed very little since its original patrons wore formal suits and long dresses to class. Today’s improvements are drastic, however, and people are taking notice.

“The Reading Room, while always a public and scholarly space, will seem even more so as the renovation continues,” Almony said. D & C S is currently working on estimates for new lighting, flooring, furniture, shelving and the electrical and mechanical necessities to make it friendly to today’s laptop-packing students.

With plans to display some of the Rare Books collection in new, sealed display cases and shelving in the Reading Room, library officials hope it will be “a scholar’s work area – a cathedral to learning on the MU campus,” he said. “We are excited about the possibilities for the room. We want to show it off. We want to open it up for exhibits, donors’ receptions and publicity events.”

Photo: Reading Room before renovation. Photo: Interior designer Cindy Spratt in the renovated Reading Room
Ellis Library Reading Room before renovation. The use of a single, cream-colored paint subdued decorative details in the wall and ceiling moldings. Highlighting those details with contrasting paint brought them to the forefront for the first time since the library was constructed in 1916. Ellis Library Reading Room after renovation. Cyndi Bodnar Spratt, interior design associate I, worked with MU Libraries officials to choose a color scheme for Ellis Library’s renovation projects. Spratt continues to work on projects for the Libraries as gift funds are raised to support the projects.
Developing future renovations

Based on compliments Almony has received from patrons and donors, he hopes securing funding for further renovations will be easy. MU Libraries Director Jim Cogswell and Library Development Officer Gena Scott are already talking with prospective donors about funding these projects. They are among the many projects being pitched in the campus-wide Development campaign that began September 19.

Donors being targeted are members of Friends of the Library, a traditional, volunteer organization originally started in the ‘60s to fund book donations; or the Library Society, a new organization for major donors to the library, who pay an annual membership of $1,000 ($500 for MU staff) and receive automatic membership into the University’s prestigious Jefferson Club.

“Many of our donors have been in awe of the Colonnade and Reading Room projects,” Almony said. “We’re going to give them the opportunity to help us make the library look even better in the years to come.”

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Facilities Focus is a newsletter published by Campus Facilities' Communications department to share news about MU facilities with the campus community. If you have questions or comments about this web site, please send them to Campus Facilities Communications, email: cfweb@missouri.edu; mail address: 180 General Services Building, Columbia, MO 65211; telephone: 573-882-3327; fax: 573-882-5603.

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