Sarah Ray


Posted: September 24, 2001


VT - Middlebury College is determined to respect the

past and embrace the future as it prepares to begin building

a new $40-million library on the site of the College’s

old science center. That may be a difficult challenge

though. How should a modern library accommodate the

traditional printed book while incorporating the latest



College Dean of Library and Information Services Barbara

Doyle-Wilch said, “Our goal is to ensure that almost any

activity related to study, research or collaborative work

can take place at the library, at any time of the day and

into the night. Students working together, for example, on a

project involving film, still photography, and recorded

music might view films together in a media viewing room and

use the resources in the media development suite to

integrate these different media into their


In the

spring of 2002, construction will begin on the new library,

which is scheduled for completion during the summer of 2004

and will open to users in the fall of that year.


will start only after an ambitious process to recycle 98

percent of the old science center is finished. The majority

of the old science center - approximately 80 percent -

consists of concrete. Workers will load the concrete pieces

of the building into a “crusher” that grinds the concrete at

the construction site, later using much of the material as

project fill for the new library.


three-story, 135,000-square-foot structure along Storrs

Avenue designed by architectural firm Gwathmey Siegel &

Associates of New York City, the new building is expected to

accommodate the library’s collections for up to 50

years, according to Glenn Andres, Middlebury College

professor of history of art and architecture and chair of

the library planning committee. Once the new library is

operating, the current facility - Starr Library - will be

renovated and used for several purposes, including

classrooms and offices.

Lack of

space is one of the main reasons for the new library, which

will provide sufficient room to house the College’s

expanding collection of print materials and ample seating to

accommodate the planned growth in the student body. The new

facility will also protect the collection from deterioration

with appropriate storage. Over the years, the absence of a

climate-controlled environment in Starr Library has made it

difficult to maintain and use the collection properly. Moist

surroundings have contributed to the growth of mold in

portions of the collection, threatening its condition.

According to

architect Bob Siegel of Gwathmey Siegel & Associates,

the new library will also address an increasing need for

interactive, collaborative learning in liberal arts. “As we

conceptualized the design, we kept in mind that libraries

have become social gathering centers on campus. They draw

students out of their rooms and into a place where they can

study and learn together, as well as on their own.”


College President John M. McCardell, Jr. stated that the new

facility will respond to the changing information needs of

students and faculty.


colleges and universities are holding off on the decision to

build a new library because they are not sure what the

library of the 21st century should offer. After

seven years of planning and considering our library needs,

we are betting that books will be central to the academic

enterprise well into the 21st century,” said



McCardell also stressed that Middlebury’s new library

will house and support the technological tools of learning

as well. “By combining in a single facility access to books

and the opportunity to apply the very latest technological

approaches to learning and teaching, Middlebury will meet

the needs of its faculty and students,” said


The new

facility will include open stacks for hundreds of thousands

of books and periodicals; reference material collected over

decades; electronic access to information; media products;

and technological tools for manipulating and presenting

ideas and research.

According to

Nan Jenks-Jay, Middlebury College director of environmental

affairs, College administrators and architects are working

together to ensure that environmental considerations and

energy efficiency are incorporated into the design and

construction of the new library. Such features will include

an environmentally sound choice of materials, the use of

triple-glazed windows, and light-control blinds to minimize

light pollution to the outside and to reduce radiational

heat transfer.

Siegel said,

“We are confident that the building will achieve a silver

and perhaps even a gold rating with Leadership in Energy and

Environmental Design (LEED), a new national standard for

sustainable design created by the United States Green

Building Council.”

Many of

Middlebury’s resource services - reference,

interlibrary loan, information technology services, the

media resources center, the writing center - will be located

in the new facility, creating a focal point that fully

integrates print and electronic information and


Visitors to

the new library will enter at mid-level through a rotunda

that will open to the heart of the building and provide

clear views of the floors above and below. Major public

services will be located on the entry level, and collection

and quiet study zones will be above and below.

The entry-

and third-level floors will provide access to mezzanines

equipped with suites of study carrels in distinct groupings.

These groupings will be particularly useful for the

Middlebury College Language Schools, which are in session

each summer, allowing students of specific schools to study

together and practice their language skills without

disturbing others.

Among the

services located on the entry level will be the reference

and help desks, circulation and media desks, writing center,

24-hour study area, government documents and reference

collection, microforms, media-viewing and development rooms,

and Web-conference room.


First Library


Middlebury’s first century, the library relocated to

successively larger quarters and was housed in several

buildings. The first dedicated library building, Starr

Library, was built in 1900. Within two and a half decades,

this facility was overcrowded. Enlargements to Starr Library

have occurred at roughly 25-year intervals to accommodate

increased use and growing collections in all fields of




Library opened



and west wings added



expansion and renovation



Wing dedicated















For more

information about the new library project, visit the

College’s Web site at

The site includes a live Web camera that offers a view of

the deconstruction of the old science center.


of the new library

  • 730

    seats, expanding seating to accommodate 38 percent of an

    enlarged student body of 2,350
  • Fixed

    shelving, providing open stacks and maximum accessibility
  • Stack

    areas, allowing up to 50 additional years of collection

  • Climate

    control for human comfort and collection

  • Distinct

    climate-controlled area for special collections and other

    sensitive material
  • Power

    and data connections at each seat
  • An

    electronic classroom and a 30-seat “smart” lecture hall,

    which is wired for connection to the campus computer

    network and the Internet. It also offers Web casting

  • Computer

  • Web-conference

    seminar room
  • A wide

    range of quiet study areas
  • Traditional

    reading rooms, east and west
  • Small

    group study rooms and carrel suites
  • Assisted-learning

    software and hardware
  • Copier

    and printer stations
  • Media

    development lab
  • Writing

  • Faculty

    study rooms
  • 24-hour

    study area, with beverages and snacks
  • Maximum

    access to natural light and views