With a $5 million grant from the Gleason Foundation, Rush Rhees Library has made a significant step toward the renovation of its east wing.

“As magnificent a building as Rush Rhees Library is, it wasn’t necessarily adapted to the needs of students today,” Gleason Foundation Founder James Gleason said.

Dean of The College William Green is pleased with the possibilities that the donation affords. “We are very excited about it,” he said. “It’s a wonderful beginning for a great educational project.”

Many changes are planned for the library. The College Writing Center will be moved to the first floor from the ground floor. A Teaching and Learning Center will be created to facilitate group learning.

Including the already-present wireless internet, Rush Rhees will have a reference desk with both librarians and technology experts, and new tools such as scanners and audio-video equipment.

The building will be renovated on the east side where the ITS Center is located. Also, as part of the renovation, a second main entrance will be established on the east side of the library. Other plans include a grand staircase, wider windows and a publicly accessible elevator.

“We need $15 million in total, but this goes substantially toward reaching our goal,” Library Development Manager Andrea Weinstein said.

“As group projects and collaborative works become more important, the need for interactive work spaces has become evident,” Dean of Libraries Ron Dow said. He said that the renovation of the East Wing will open up more spacious work areas and encourage groups to work together. Currently there is a lot of space to work individually and silently and very little for group work, so the renovation will fill that void.

By undergoing these transformations, the library also hopes to create a more welcoming space, not only for school work, but for social interaction. The $15 million east wing campaign is part of several projects over the last four years, including the renovation of the Great Hall, the Welles-Brown Room, the Messinger Periodical Reading Room and the Freidlander Lobby.

“We hope this will be a good start to a total renovation of the library,” Gleason said.

Green said that The College and the library have been working together to make the renovations possible. “There is a good partnership between the college and the library in developing this project,” he said. “When the project is done, the library will be a seamless learning environment.”

The Gleason Foundation also donated $500,000 to the library for the Great Hall two years ago. James Gleason earned his MBA from the Simon School in 1968 as a member of the first Executive Development Program. He is chairman of the Gleason Corporation and of the Gleason Foundation. He and his wife, Janis, have been active in the Rochester community since 1959, when they established the foundation. Gleason is also a Life Trustee of UR and a new building of the Simon School of Business was named after him last year.

“Enhancing the magnificent existing library building to better meet changing usage simply makes sense,” Gleason said in a press release.

The tower will not be affected by the changes.

“That’ll be really nice to have more group work area because that’s something that’s always been lacking. The only real group area was CLARC, so it’s good that they’re expanding,” said senior Ross Camara.

“I’m glad they’re not changing the dome,” said freshman Marc Perez jokingly. “It’s a very generous gift,” he added.

Additional reporting by Karen Taylor.

Fales can be reached at sfales@campustimes.org.



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