Union officials, donors, developers break ground on new library

Dignitaries turn dirt during the groundbreaking ceremony for the new library. Pictured (from left) are Dr. David S. Dockery, university president; Anna Beth Morgan, director of the library; Jim Campbell, president and COO of TLM Architects/Engineers; Carol and Bill Latimer, major donors for the project; Rod Parker, chairman of the Board of Trustees; Harry Smith, past chairman of the Board of Trustees; and Frank Wagster, principal architect of H&M Construction. | Photo by Annie Richoux

By Amanda Parrish, Staff Writer

The new library’s groundbreaking event April 12 marked the official start of an anticipated building project designed to cater to student needs, foster learning and reflect the primary mission of Union University.

Dr. Carla Sanderson, provost and executive vice president, said the groundbreaking was a significant opportunity to dedicate the new library and give thanks to God and the individuals who have made the project possible.

“(The purpose of this gathering is to) establish a marker of a beginning of a very important project,” Sanderson said.

She said the gathering’s purpose was to dedicate the new library to God and ask for safety and to “begin to maximize our thinking of all that this building can be.”

The event took place next to the Great Lawn and Jennings Hall, where the library will be constructed.

The library’s building funds, much of which were donated by the Bill and Carol Latimer Foundation, will be used to build a purposefully designed library for students and faculty.

Sanderson said the library’s use of light in the form of a dome and many windows will represent the library’s and university’s purpose of illumination.

“The symbolism of a library and the symbolism of light is the most significant thing about this building, because it stands for Christ, the light of the world,” she said. “Light, or illumination, is what we’re trying to bring to students’ minds as they prepare for their careers.”

The interior layout will allow students to gather and study interactively. The library will be another place for students and faculty to build relationships while growing academically.

Community members will be able to use some rooms, and campus events such as the Town and Gown series will be held in faculty event rooms in the library rather than in classrooms.

Anna Beth Morgan, associate vice president for academic resources and director of the library, said  librarians will also benefit from the new building design.

A wider variety of seating and spaces will be available for students, but Morgan said library staff also will find the layout more accessible.

“(There will be) more opportunities for the library staff to actually interact with faculty and students better than the current space,” Morgan said. “We’re kind of separated in half. You’ll see staff on every floor, which we don’t really do now.”

Morgan said the current space in the Penick Academic Complex does not allow for much expansion, but the new building will have a strategically planned layout.

“(The new space) will provide more opportunity for service,” Morgan said. “We do the best and try to provide the best service we can in our current space, but I think we’ll have a much better opportunity to be helpful and more pleasing to our customers.”

Designers planned a building with room for growth for academic resources and books, Sanderson said.

She said the library will also provide access to food service to cater to busy students and commuters.

The new building also will house the Information Technology Department in the basement, a well-protected location.

Sanderson said the old library space likely will house enrollment services, which will open up space for other uses where enrollment services is housed in the Student Union Building.

Sanderson said the building’s expected completion date is fall 2013.

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The Cardinal & Cream is a student publication of Union University in Jackson, Tennessee. Our staff ranges from freshmen to seniors and includes a variety of majors — including journalism, public relations, advertising, marketing, digital media studies, graphic design and art majors.