In 1992 the Coordinating Board of Higher Education (CBHE) recommended that $8.5 million be appropriated by the Legislature in the FY94 budget to begin the construction which would complete the expansion of Ellis Library, the main library on the Columbia Campus (MU). The Governor accepted CBHE’s recommendation, and initially his budget request for FY94 included the line item for $8.5 million
In December 1992 University of Missouri President George Russell asked the Governor to remove that item from his budget request. The President explained he had reached the conclusion that the University needed to re-evaluate its library facility needs on all four campuses. In view of this re-evaluation, the University did not wish to complete the expansion of MU’s main library. (The President later revealed that he made this request based upon the wishes of the newly appointed Chancellor of the MU Campus, Charles Kiesler, who had assumed his duties in November 1992.)
Lacking a plan to alleviate its severe space problem, the MU Libraries continued to pile books on the floors in Ellis Library. The other three campuses, Kansas City, Rolla, and St. Louis also had concerns about future needs for additional library space. This was particularly true for the Rolla Campus, whose library had run out of room and also needed renovation.
In April 1993 President George Russell, Vice Presidents Ralph Caruso, Jim McGill and Richard Wallace, together with consultant Robert Chartrand, traveled to Washington, D. C., to find out how libraries there were addressing their facility problems. They visited the Library of Congress, the National Library of Medicine, the National Agricultural Library and the library of American University. While in District of Columbia, they learned of the plans for the new library depository being built for the consortium of universities in the Washington area.
In September 1993 the University of Missouri submitted to CBHE its budget request for FY95 which contained one University-wide item for capital construction. This specific item, for a library storage facility priced at $4 million, was presented in lieu of any expansion of library facilities on the University’s campuses.
In October 1993 University President George Russell appointed the Advisory Review Panel for Assessment of Library Needs, composed of administrators from five other institutions, and chaired by Jay Lucker of MIT. In December 1993 the Library Directors and others, including Jim Goodrich, Executive Director of the State Historical Society, met with the Panel in St. Louis to review their campuses respective library facilities and the need for library space on each campus..
In March 1994 the Advisory Panel submitted its report to President Russell, recommending the construction of a library depository for the University of Missouri.
In August 1994 the voters of Missouri passed a statewide bond issue that contained an item for $3.1 million for construction of a compact library storage facility for the University of Missouri System.
In September 1994 President Russell appointed a University-wide Library Facilities Planning Committee for the depository. All Library Directors served on it, together with members from the faculty from each of the four campuses. The Committee was chaired by Vice President for Academic Affairs, Richard Wallace.
In February 1995 MU’s Library Scholarship Policy Task Force held a symposium to consider storage alternatives, seeking to define its ideal design, or what was termed “The Missouri Model.” Librarians and faculty from all four campuses attended this event which featured presentations by Jay Lucker and other members of the Advisory Review Panel for Assessment of Library Needs.
Also in February 1995 the University’s Planning Committee interviewed architects for the depository. The Committee recommended Peckham Guyton Albers and Viets (PGAV) of Kansas City, and this firm was hired. The principal architect on the project was Mark Viets of PGAV, assisted by University Architect Bobb Swanson.
The members of the University’s Planning Committee, including Mark Viets and Bobb Swanson, traveled to Harvard University in June 1995 to study the original “Harvard-style depository.” Following that trip, a commitment to build a depository, based upon the Harvard model, was made. Within a short time the construction process began on Lemone Industrial Boulevard in Columbia, about three miles from the MU Campus.
Ground was broken on the site in June 1996. In October and November, the foundation was poured and supports for the structure were installed. Construction continued throughout the winter. By Christmas 1996, the framework was largely installed, and the shape of the building was evident.
Immediately following New Year’s Day 1997, the floor of the front office area was poured. Crews then moved on to the storage area. The specification for the storage module floor called for an exceptionally flat surface. After the cement dried, the floor was ground and polished to achieve the desired flatness. After the floors were added, workers began applying the outer skin of the building. By spring most of the exterior and roof were in place. Windows and doors were mounted, giving the building a more finished appearance from the outside.
In late May of 1997, entrances to the storage module were completed, and the wall coverings installed. Insulation and a vapor barrier covered each wall. The specially covered walls would eventually be used as critical parts of the climate control system in the storage module. In mid-June, custom shelving for the storage module arrived on-site. The air handlers, situated above the storage module in the mezzanine, and the parking lot were also added. By the end of August, the shelving was installed, periphery guardrails were added, and a final floor coating was applied. On September 2nd the storage module appeared nearly ready for business.
The University of Missouri Libraries Depository began operations in the fall of 1997. The first holdings to be placed in the Depository were volumes from the University of Missouri - Rolla which had begun an extensive renovation of the Curtis Laws Wilson Library. A formal opening ceremony for the Depository was held on April 24, 1998.
A tornado hit the Depository in the early hours of November 10, 1998. Structural damage occurred to the south wall. The east wall also was damaged badly, and more than half the roof was destroyed. Fortunately the books which had been placed in the Depository to that point were not damaged. A consultant was hired to examine the volumes housed in the facility, and she found no evidence of mold or water damage. Immediately following the storm, a period of cold, fair, and precipitation-free weather allowed for a rapid and relatively trouble-free recovery. Repairs to the Depository were made sooner than had been estimated, and the facility was back in full operation within a few months.
The UM Libraries Depository officially unveiled its dedication plaque in the fall of 2002. The UM Library directors, esteemed guests, and those integral to the management and maintenance of the facility were invited to view the unveiling on October 31st.
The following summer, the collection at UMLD reached one million books. “William Rainey Harper” by Goodspeed was received on June 30th 2003, the last day of the 2002-2003 fiscal year.
The UM Libraries Depository continues to serve the UM Libraries community, the UM System and beyond.
Historical text by Martha Alexander, Director of MU Libraries (retired), June DeWeese, Head of Access Services, Ellis Library, UMC and James Keyzer-Andre, UMLD Manager.