Old Green library took worst hit, Kennedy says

Chuck Painter Columns atop the rotunda of the Green Library's West Wing

Columns atop the rotunda of the Green Library's West Wing twisted and turned when the earthquake struck.

President Donald Kennedy donned a hard hat late Tuesday afternoon to tour the old west wing of Green Library, which suffered some of the most serious damage on campus in the Oct. 17 Loma Prieta earthquake.

Following his 45-minute visit, he told officials of the University Libraries that "you certainly took a worse hit than anybody in terms of number of people and amount of program displaced."

The tour had its lighter moments, including discussion of the "mountain cabin motif that results from some $160,000 worth of plywood covering first-floor walls. The lumber covers brittle clay tile walls, which could pop out and injure workers or library patrons in another quake. An inflated fish hung on one wall added to the rustic atmosphere.

But for the most part it was a sobering visit through the building's labyrinth of halls and stairs.

On the closed upper floors, Kennedy viewed cracked clay tile walls in the Field Room, Barchas Room, Lurie Rotunda, Bender Room, Map Room, and, ironically, the brittle books room of the Preservation Department.

Looking at the Lurie Rotunda, which some think is the most dramatic damage on campus. Kennedy wondered aloud what it must of been like in the quake.

Bruce Jones, director of administration for the libraries, explained that the tile walls throughout the building must be replaced with a different material.

He took Kennedy into the tiered stacks and pointed out the network of steel beams that had been added the year before in a $5.5 million seismic bracing project. Because of damage in the elevator shafts in the old part of Green, books often must be carried seven floors, he told Kennedy.

He said that 50 to 60 people who occupied about 30,000 square feet of space are still displaced. The library will get 9,000 to 10,000 square feet of trailer space.

Special Collections is the key public service unit in Green West that still is seriously hampered by the quake.

Tia Gozzi, director of technical services, told Kennedy that the project to convert the card catalog was continuing without interruption.

But the process of purchasing and cataloging new materials has been set back. Library Director David Weber said. "The impact of this will be felt for as much as two and a half years."

Gozz's units "have done a marvelous job, but we've lost productivity and will again while the building is being repaired," Weber told Kennedy.

At the end of the tour, Kennedy told Library officials that he was "struck by the good spirit with which everybody has managed to endure."

"Faculty and students will need to be understanding about the changes in service level that are just an inevitable consequence of this kind of dislocation.

"The staff here has done marvelously well, but they've been rearranged, reorganized, pushed around, and certain things aren't going to happen as a consequence of that."

Kennedy's library visit was organized by Prof. Gerald Gillespie, German, who is head of the University Committee on Libraries. Michael Ryan, director of collection development also took part.