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Students, faculty, staff and friends from around Jackson signed a steel beam that will support the dome of the new Union University library Wednesday, Nov. 19.
“It really marks in construction terms a turning point, so we want to celebrate that, celebrate for one the safety of all those people who’ve worked on the job at different points and ask the Lord’s protection and favor on them as they continue to do their work,” said Samuel W. “Dub” Oliver, university president.
The Topping Out ceremony was held to celebrate the installation of the highest piece of structural steel. The celebration has Scandinavian roots, Oliver said.
The library is scheduled for completion October 2015.
During the ceremony, Oliver encouraged those present to take the beeping of machinery and the ringing of steel as a reminder to pray for the construction workers.
Several people gave prayers of thanksgiving and for safety during the ceremony. Oliver also recognized Bill and Carol Latimer, who gave the lead gift for the building, Architect Frank Wagster of TLM Associates and representatives of H&M Construction.
Anna Beth Morgan, associate vice president for academic resources and director of the library, said Union has never previously built a library building, but has always housed the library in a larger building or a converted building.
“Will you be bold enough to admit you wondered if the building was going to start?” Morgan asked the crowd. “OK. Well it did. That’s the fabulous thing, and it’s going to be more fabulous because of when it started.”
Morgan said the delay in construction, which began July 2014, resulted in more spaces than originally planned. Spaces in the library will include a family study area, extra seating on the second floor, 10 study areas on the third floor, meeting rooms and a studio.
Hal Poe, Charles Colson Professor of Faith & Culture and faculty member of the year, said the library has long needed room to grow.
“For the history of western civilization, the library has been the center, the heart of learning, from Alexander’s great library in Alexandria to Oxford,” Poe said. “…Our library is the intellectual heart of the university. It’s the heart of why we are here, and it’s the intellectual meeting space of all the disciplines.”
Caleb Smith, sophomore music management major, said he is excited to finally use the library in about ten months.
“I just love that my name is going to be permanently inscribed on the library,” Smith said. “That’s a pretty historic moment.”