Athens, Ga. – The University of Georgia special collections libraries began 2012 in a new state-of-the-art facility and will celebrate the opening of the Richard B. Russell Building Special Collections Libraries with a dedication on Feb. 17 at 11 a.m. on the building’s front lawn.
The recently named building houses the Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, the Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, the Walter J. Brown Media Archives and the Peabody Collection.
The university broke ground for the $46-million, 115,000-square-foot structure in January 2010. UGA raised a third of the Russell Building’s cost from private sources, along with $7 million in gifts for program endowments.
“We are exhilarated to reach completion of this outstanding new facility designed for the purpose of growing, caring for and sharing the university’s most distinguished collections,” said P. Toby Graham, deputy university librarian and director of the Hargrett Library. “After many years of planning and fundraising, we are eager to welcome students, researchers and the general public to engage with our collections in the Russell Building’s research rooms, exhibition halls and classrooms and through public events.”
Each of the special collection libraries has galleries in which to display permanent and rotating exhibits. Additionally, classrooms open for public programs allow the libraries to integrate primary source materials into instruction and meeting spaces. The building also includes digitization facilities for paper-based materials, moving images and audio as well as an oral history studio.
A highlight of the building that visitors will not see is a 30,000-square-foot Harvard-model high-density storage facility constructed largely below ground level. This type of storage model is generally used for off-site shelving facilities, making UGA’s special collections vault unique in its incorporation of high-density storage into an actual library. Items are retrieved using a motorized order picker to reach the 30-foot-high shelves.
Located near historic North Campus in a triangular tract bounded by South Hull Street, Florida Avenue and Waddell Street, the Russell Building anchors a proposed northwest quadrant of campus.