New state-of-the-art facility to honor late Dr. Jerry Falwell
Chancellor of Liberty University Jerry Falwell Jr. announced Friday, Oct. 14, that Liberty University will soon begin construction on the Jerry Falwell Library.
The library is part of Liberty’s campus makeover and “will make a statement about our commitment to academic excellence,” Falwell said.
“(The) new freestanding library will be the academic hub of Liberty’s campus,” the Liberty Journal states. “It will overlook a new lake behind the Vines Center.”
The Board of Trustees met Tuesday, Oct. 11, to finalize details about the library. According to Falwell, because of the capital investment being made for the library, as well as the fact that it will become a focal point of the campus and the center of student life and academic programs, he suggested it be called the Jerry Falwell Library to commemorate his father and Liberty’s founder.
“They (the Board of Trustees), for years, have been looking for the right structure, the right opportunity to honor his memory,” Falwell said. “They all decided it should be named in his honor, because of the sacrifices he made to make Liberty a reality.”
Construction has already begun on the perimeter road behind the main campus. Falwell said that demolition of buildings that were built in the 70s to be temporary academic buildings, such as parts of the Schilling center, the Science building and the SLAB, will begin before the end of 2011 and new construction will be well underway by the spring of 2012.
The modern, state-of-the art library will be 170,000 sq. ft. and home to electronic resources and new technology, such as a robotic storage retrieval system, as well as a traditional book collection, Falwell said. He said that students will be able to search the library catalog for books and view them electronically online to determine whether or not that is the book they want.
“If it is, (they can) have it delivered to their desk within five minutes,” Falwell said. “Old-style libraries would use about one-third of their space for collections, one-third for student research and one-third for other uses. With this robotic system, we’re able to reduce to 7 percent the space used for collections.”
Jeffersonian architecture will be incorporated into the library, as well as other future buildings and infrastructure that are part of the plans to “transform the look of the University over the next few years,” Falwell said.
The new library will be the biggest capital investment in any one structure that Liberty has ever made, costing between $45 and $50 million, Falwell said.
This revenue will be generated not only from the tuitions of the growing online and residential student body and generous donors, but Liberty’s marketing team is also conducting a capital fundraising campaign, Falwell said.
He said that there will be naming opportunities for donors, where they can have a different area or aspect of the library, such as the retrieval system, learning areas and study rooms, named after them or a loved one in exchange for their donation.
In regards to the “growing pains” that will inevitably be incurred by students who will be attending classes and using facilities on campus during the demolition and construction process, Falwell said they have plans to address this challenge and indicated the end result will be worth it, as “the Jerry Falwell Library will be a bridge to the future in terms of academic research.”