November 17, 2017

At Fresno State, Furniture Is On Hold, but Majestic New Library Will Open

By Andrew Albanese

  • Library will open with about 20 percent of its furniture
  • Statewide budget freeze to blame
  • 350,000 square foot library is CSU’s largest
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(This article first appeared in the January 29 issue of the LJ Academic Newswire.)

Amid a slumping economy, libraries will be forced to find creative ways to adapt—and nowhere is that more true than at California State University, Fresno. Although the library’s massive, state-of-the-art $105 million building has finished construction, a statewide budget freeze means a crucial detail has been put on hold: furniture. “The library will indeed open with reduced furnishings,” Peter McDonald, Fresno State dean of library services, confirmed for the Library Journal Academic Newswire. “The reality of what we can afford, what might arrive, and what we can scrounge up, changes daily.”

With the library all but finished, a state budget shortfall has held up about $8 million for the library’s finishing touches, about 80 percent of the library’s planned furnishings, "everything that is essentially not nailed down to the floor,” McDonald noted. 

That includes everything from computers to seating, curtains, and signage, special equipment, and the like—although not all of that $8 million worth of undelivered furniture was slated for the library. Furnishings for the university administration is also included in that figure, McDonald explained, as administrators were set to occupy the fourth floor of the new wing in the Haak Center—a move now on hold until the budget crisis is resolved. 

Some furniture coming in
"We believe, as of today, that we will be able to offer students somewhere upwards of 1000 seats, and some 200 plus tables,” McDonald noted, "a mix of new furniture that came in under the wire, furniture borrowed from other campus units, and rented.” 

The remainder, including more “soft seating” and specialized furnishings like group study seating and auditorium furnishings, will have to wait. The university and the library will hold a ribbon cutting ceremony on Thursday February 19, though McDonald noted, the celebration will be pared down, given the fiscal crisis in the state. Library services will open to all users the following morning at 8 a.m. 

Despite, a lack of some final furnishings, however, anticipation is high on campus for the new building. “Students at Fresno State have not had a proper library building in over three years,” McDonald explained, calling the completion of the building a milestone, both for Fresno State and the library. “Just the fact that students will have a beautiful building to study in, with plenty of outlets, hardwire and wi-fi, with gallery space and other amenities, will be a huge boost to student success.”

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