Library on New Ground- by Thomas Donald Clarke
On a Thursday afternoon last week in a sandbox strategically placed next to LaGuardia Hall, the ground was broken for the expansion of the campus library. The actual construction site was 100 feet away, but that didn't stop various faculty and library officials from celebrating the groundbreaking. And according to chief librarian Barbra Higginbotham, the new library will be ready for use in two years, replacing Brooklyn College's present (temporary) library facilities in Roosevelt Hall and the Field Library building.
In the speech before the groundbreaking proper, Higginbotham, BC President Vernon Lattin, and various alumni such as NY State Assembly members Rhoda Jacobs and Ed Griffith spoke on the necessity of an expanded library. "The new Brooklyn College Library will embody both tradition and tomorrow, preserving our heritage while advancing our future," said Higginbotham.
Then the shovels were handed out. Lattin used a shovel alleged to have been used in the groundbreaking of LaGuardia Hall (the original library building) 64 years ago, while Jacobs, Griffith, and Higginbotham used much newer shovels.
The new library will feature 6.5 acres of floor space, 15.5 miles of shelving, 2400 seats (about four times the seating of the old Gideonese Library), and a price tag that could easily top the state's allocation of $60 million. The library will be expanded southward from the Gideonese Extension towards Ingersoll Extension.
How will the library be completed if the state's $60 million isn't enough? Brooklyn College promises to name sections of the library after donors. According to the library's own press releases, the three building library complex (the new wing, Gideonese Extension, and LaGuardia Hall) will be named after any donor who will contribute $10 million or more to the project. Naming rights for the new wing start at $5 million, and a donor can name a library floor for between $500,000 and $1.5 million. Bookshelf naming rights start at $1500, and auditorium seats are the cheapest items at $1000.
Mayor Giuliani was supposed to be present for the groundbreaking, but he never showed up.
November 8, 1999/BC Excelsior