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May 6, 2016

Eastern New Mexico University (ENMU) Preparing for Unprecedented Facilities Project

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Opened in early 1953, the Golden Library on the Portales campus of Eastern New Mexico University boasted an immediate inventory of more than 125,000 volumes and has since served three generations of students.

“From its structural columns, a feature of the exterior architecture,” a reporter for the Clovis News-Journal enthused over the new building, “to the elaborate facilities of the interior, including air conditioning, uniformed lighting, acoustics, elevator, and specialized furniture of the latest design, the new library is the finest in American ingenuity, skill, and labor.”

Now all these decades later the library will soon undergo its most extensive renovation, comprising at the same time, the largest facility project on the campus in anyone’s memory.

“The new center that will be the result of the renovation will still be a library, but a library with lots and lots of extra-curricular services,” says Melvita Walker of what will become the Golden Student Success Center.

“We have some tutoring services here now, but that will be a much larger program with the new center,” says Walker, the director of the Golden Library.

“Distance education personnel will also move over to this building,” adds Walker, noting that services for distance education students is a “24-hours a day business.”

Upon completion, the upgraded and renovated structure will also feature a writing center, financial aid office, and café or snack bar, as well as interactive presentation rooms known as “smart rooms,” where students can practice presentations and through audio and visual technology study how well they did.

The new project, notes Wendel Sloan, the director of media relations at ENMU, will be paid for out of two bonds.

The first is an $11 million general obligation bond that was passed by voters in November 2014, a figure that was enhanced when ENMU kicked in an additional $4 million.

Another $11 million will come with the hoped-for passage of an additional general bond this coming November.

Altogether, that means the transformation of the library will have a $26 million price tag.

“As far as I know, if you combine the two bonds together, it will be the biggest project ever on our campus,” says Sloan, adding, “The majority of the time, bonds for our different projects have passed with very rare exceptions.”

The Golden Library transformation at ENMU reflects the thinking of school officials who believe that university libraries are no longer just places filled with rows and rows of books and sturdy wooden tables for writing.

Today’s university libraries are also fully wired for high technology, and filled with open, airy work spaces for students to study and collaborate.

At Golden this transformation means not only upgrading the building’s technology, but downsizing the actual number of its books and journals.

“We have done an updating and upgrading of the collection,” notes Walker. “There was a lot that was obsolete or superseded.”

This historic transformation is a story of numbers: the Golden Library once subscribed to more than 3,000 journals and magazines, all of which were in hard copy. It currently subscribes to roughly 60,000 titles through databases, but only has some 300 titles that are print journals.

ENMU’S GOLDEN LIBRARY, COURTESY OF EASTERN NEW MEXICO UNIVERSITY.

 

Meanwhile, as the school prepares for the transformation of the library, staffers have spent untold hours moving books to the basement of the nearby Campus Union Building, a process that will speed up once the current semester ends in May.

Library personnel will, at the same time, be headquartered in a nearby dormitory until the work on the Golden Library, which is expected to take two years, is completed.

One of the busiest buildings at ENMU, providing resources to the more than 4,000 students on campus (another 1,500 or so students are enrolled in the school’s distance education offerings), the Golden Library with its classical modern design may not look a lot different structurally after the upcoming transformation.

“But it will very much be a different place in terms of its expanded services and technology,” says Walker, noting that in 1958 the building’s entire technology was confined to a single Xerox copy machine.

 

By Garry Boulard

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