Plans to add a new wing to the library that would provide a place to experiment with technology are being revised after government grants failed to bring in sufficient funds to produce the new hi-tech addition.
The original plan, which was first proposed in 1998, called for a $5.2 million, 14,000 foot, 2-story addition on the south side of the library between the existing library and the Quick Center.
The extension was to house the university’s developing Information Technology Center, said Vice President for Information Systems and University Librarian James Estrada. However, government grants totaling only $2.1 million between 2000 and 2003 are calling officials to revisit the initial blueprint.
“The idea was to create a facility where faculty could go and test out new technology and see how they can incorporate it into the classroom,” said Estrada, adding that the new hi-tech rooms would include the newest computers, software and project equipment.
“Consistent with its mission of service to others, the ITC was designed to function as a technology training resource for the university and out regional communities,” said Estrada, explaining the aim of the ITC.
However, since federal funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development was less than anticipated, plans are currently being re-worked.
“Since the external funding received thus far is less than originally requested, the university is currently evaluating options for creating the ITC on a reduced budget while still holding true to the spirit of the original proposal,” said Estrada.
The revised plan would potentially include a 6,500 square foot additional, approximately big enough for four large rooms. However, Estrada stressed that these would not simply be classrooms.
“If the net result of this is classrooms, we don’t need anymore classrooms,” said Estrada. Instead, officials would consider using the grant money – which must be spent by 2005 – to renovate existing classrooms into hi-tech spaces.
Most students were enthusiastic about the new edition, especially since its being funded by federal grants.
“Yes, I think I would use a facility like that,” said Christine Gingras ’06. “I’d need to know more about what it would offer though.”
“It’s great that we were able to get a grant to fund the project,” said Mark Servidio ’06. “It’s something I would think about using.”
“The University would only add facilities to the campus if they benefit students, either directly or indirectly,” said Dean Mark Reed of the proposed project. “Any program or facility which helps the University to grow can only increase the value of a Fairfield degree,”
If the plan goes ahead, students could expect some type of new facility to open in the summer of 2005, in time for the 2006 fiscal year.
Plans are still in progress, but Estrada hopes that final plans will develop over the next three months.
“It’s a work in progress and we’re continuing to develop it.”