Crews begin library construction, completion date delayed

Kevin Young

Crews began construction on the Howard-Tilton Memorial Library on Sept. 23, but the project managers confirmed in a released joint statement by Project Lead Brian O’Malley and Project Manager Mark LeBlanc on Tuesday that the completion date was moved from spring 2014 to fall 2015

The construction is part of Tulane and the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Hazard Mitigation and Build-Back Program, which will build two new floors on top of the existing building to house materials from the basement and Jones Hall that were damaged in Hurricane Katrina.

Andy Corrigan, the Howard-TiltonMemorial Library associate dean, said the delay in construction was a result of the contracting process.”There was a snag,” Corrigan said. “[The issue] had to do with the bidding and making sure every [contractor] got a fair chance [to bid].”

This delay comes after a long pre-construction process following Katrina in 2005. The university’s work with the federal government through FEMA was another factor in the long pre-construction process.

“We’re eight years out, and we’re still just now beginning this project,” said Lance Query, dean of libraries and academic information resources. “A lot of it was delayed because of negotiating [budgets] with FEMA – when you have to deal with FEMA, it’s a very [drawn-out] project. The FEMA teams changed. That certainly took us longer than we had anticipated. We thought we’d be finished with this project by now.”

Senior Niko Moses said she thinks the shutting down sections of the library will minimize its usefulness during construction.

“Even without closing down some sections, the library doesn’t have enough space,” Moses said. “Tulane keeps accepting new students, and they’ve never done any expansion before. There’s not enough room with the library at its fullest.”

Some students said the noise level due to the construction could be a problem. Sophomore Rowan Langford said she thinks the noise won’t be as much of an issue as students expect and that giving students earplugs can be one solution.

“I think passing out earplugs is a good idea, so the construction doesn’t bother people,” Langford said. “There are also plenty of other places on campus to study, though, so I don’t think it will be too much of a problem.”Query and Corrigan said they understand the concerns and are doing what they can to limit the inconvenience to students.

“It’s going to be noisy, let’s not sugarcoat that,” Query said. “However, we’re ensuring that during finals week and the high use period of time with research papers, the library noise will be down.”

Corrigan said the construction will end most days around 4:30 p.m. and will typically not occur on weekends. Corrigan is also updating a construction progress blog to keep students up-to-date. “We’re doing everything we can to minimize the disruption to our students and faculty,” Query said.