"OC's new library is 40,000 square feet of learning"

"More than three years after the roof of the Olympic College Library and Media Center collapsed under the weight of a snow and ice storm, a new building has risen from the ashes to offer students more services than ever before.After losing more than $1.5 million worth of books, equipment and periodicals in the Dec. 29, 1996 storm, most of the missing materials have been replaced, and many others have been purchased.Officially opened March 8, the reconstruction project cost $7.9 million, more than half of which was raised by donations through the OC Foundation, the college's fund-raising organization.The new building spans 40,199 square feet divided among three stories, which include not only the library and media center, but a bibliographic instruction classroom and the Student Advising Center.The library itself features a music collection of more than 200 compact discs, a research computer lab with 28 workstations and a periodical collection of 6,639 reels of microfilm - a replacement of lost materials worth $500,000.The bibliographic instruction classroom will provide students with the opportunity to learn about many computerized research methods including, but not limited to, the Internet. The room will include a computer for every student in the class, allowing them more hands-on experience, said Ruth Ross, dean of library and media services at the college.This way, they won't just be squinting at a far-away screen at the front of the room, she said.The second wave of construction - for the Media Services portion of the building - is scheduled to be completed by mid-July, Ross said.So we're really only halfway through the process, she said. It's definitely a work in progress.The Media Center will feature video classrooms for networked education, a filming studio and other multimedia services.The lower floor of the building includes a lounge area, as well as smaller rooms designed for tutoring and study sessions. With temporary, unmatched furniture scattered throughout the building until the permanent items arrive, Ross said the rooms are currently in high demand.Right now, anything with a table is very popular, she said.The top floor of the building features numerous small corners that are ideal for students to use as an escape from noisier parts of the building.They asked for nooks and crannies, Ross said, and we're going to give it to them.In addition to the large windows, which provide views of the Olympic Mountains and Mt. Rainier, the top floor also offers extra seating for students and data ports for computers.We're going to have one of the most fantastic computerized research instruction areas around, Ross said.After the roof collapsed, Ross said many of the books were exposed to the weather for seven days before being transferred to the gymnasium for temporary storage.Amazingly, we saved a lot of them, she said. This is a very special project to us.The college is scheduled to hold a public grand-opening dedication of the building at 1 p.m. June 2. The guest presenter at the event will be Neville Keery, head of the Libraries and European Documentation Centres for the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium."

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