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