World-class expansion planned for Rhodes library

By Ashleigh James and Lungisa Charles Seplani

Rhodes’ main library, situated in the heart of campus, has recently begun a major expan-sion project that will continue for approximately two years.

The official brochure for the expan-sion project, available on the Rhodes Library website, says the estimated cost of the project is R89,2 million. The proposed expansion and refur-bishment will give the library more computer workstations and laboratory areas, as well as more space in which students may study.

This enables library staff to further assist students, as currently there is a shortage of seating or space for students: the library can only seat approximately 10% of the student body at any one time, whereas international standards for academic libraries require that capacity should be at least 20% of the student body.

The construction of the library will occur in stages so as not to cause too much disruption to students and their studies. Rhodes University, according to the brochure, is as an institution of international standard and the improvements being conducted for a better library will further enhance the standard of education offered to students.

“The international trend is for academic libraries to be seen as learning environments, providing a variety of learning spaces and sup-ported access to print and electronic information,” says the brochure for the expansion project. Not only will the library’s electronic information resources increase in size and accesi-bility, but so will its print material.

This is necessary because the humanities faculty is largely reliant on the printed material provided by the Rhodes library and much academic information is not available elec-tronically and won’t be be in the near future. The library adds approximately 8 000 new books and periodicals to its collection each year, creating a serious need for more space.

Its col-lection has risen from 100 000 publi-cations in 1961 to 350 000 in 2006. With its new extensions Rhodes will have a library to rival the best world-wide.

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