MARBL To Undergo Year-Long Renovation

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Emory’s Manuscript, Archives and Rare Book Library (MARBL) will undergo significant construction over the next year to upgrade its offerings and facilities on the 10th floor of the Robert W. Woodruff Library, according to an April 12 University press release.

The improvements — which will include an expanded and enclosed reading room, seminar and meeting spaces for group study, enhanced exhibit spaces and a dedicated, technology-enabled classroom — will begin construction in June 2014 (pending final approval) and continue through summer 2015, according to the release.

The release continued that MARBL will officially close for the renovations on May 16 and the reading room will be closed from May 17 to June 1. The grand opening for the new MARBL is planned for late summer 2015, according to the release.

“This renovation will provide outstanding research, instructional and public spaces at the center of our campus,” MARBL Director Rosemary Magee wrote in an email to the Wheel. “These spaces are essential in order to match the distinction of our collections and the desire for appropriate access to them.”

The 10th floor will also will be enlarged after enclosing a portion of the Woodruff balcony, according to the release.

The newly enclosed space will provide panoramic views of the Atlanta skyline from inside MARBL via floor-to-ceiling windows.

“The increase in the amount of space available for teaching through the archives is really exciting,” Faculty Curator of African American Collections Pellom McDaniels III wrote in an email to the Wheel. “We will have a fully functional 21st century classroom with all the technological advancements available to use in our analysis of materials, discussions and exploration of ideas.”

McDaniels added that he believes that the availability of technology-enabled classrooms will allow Emory to bring scholars from around the globe into a classroom setting through video conferencing to participate in the learning process.

According to Magee, the project and construction budget, pending final approvals cost between $6 to 7 million dollars “as significant infrastructure work needs to occur.”

The space will also undergo a redesign to parallel the architectural traits seen around campus. According to Magee, much of the space will be accented with marble similar to those used on the buildings that surround the Emory quadrangle.

“I am looking forward to seeing our students, faculty, staff and alumni joining an international cadre of scholars in all of the spaces,” Magee said. “It will be especially meaningful to have state-of-the-art classroom and seminar spaces where we can all enjoy the beauty and significance of literary and historical primary materials.”

According to Magee, discussions over upgrading MARBL have been ongoing for the last couple of years. She added that the planning for the project formally began around 18 months ago.

During the construction process, much of MARBL’s rare materials currently located on the 10th floor will need to be relocated and will likely be moved to “appropriate” spaces throughout the Woodruff Library over the course of the next two months, Magee wrote.

Although MARBL will be closed for 15 months to complete the renovation, students will still be able to utilize its services as it operates in interim spaces on both floors 7 and 8 in the Library’s stack tower.

Because of the change of space, the interim research conducted in MARBL will be by appointment only and guests will be required to register, request materials and schedule an appointment to do research in advance of their visit, according to the release.

College senior Benjamin Leiner said he believes that adding new classroom spaces and digital resources will encourage professors to engage their classes with what MARBL has to offer.

“I hope that the renovated MARBL will introduce the joys of primary research not only to the honors students who seek it out but to all students across campus,” Leiner said. “Students who will be able to take advantage of MARBL will become stronger thinkers and writers, as they will be encouraged to understand and evaluate a diverse array of collections and materials.”

— By Dustin Slade