By Bethany Bray
---- — SALEM — The new library at Salem State University is taking shape.
Construction is expected to finish in time for books, furniture and staff to move in through July, with the building opening in late August or early September.
The $74 million, 122,000-square-foot library is the first new building on SSU’s north campus since the old library was completed in 1972. The four-story complex, with classrooms, offices, meeting and study rooms, and other amenities, will be named for former Sen. Fred Berry.
SSU officials lead city leaders and media on a tour of the building yesterday.
SSU President Patricia Maguire Meservey said she’s most looking forward to having a place for students to gather and study.
“Creation of a place for community — that’s the most exciting,” she said.
SSU students have been using an interim library facility since 2007, when the campus’s old library was closed over concerns for structural safety. The building had been plagued with problems since its construction.
Construction on the new library began in December 2010.
Susan Cirillo, dean of library, instructional and learning support, joked that her department is “experts” at moving.
“I’m looking forward to seeing students again,” said Cirillo, who has worked out of an interim space at the SSU Enterprise Center for the past five years. “We’re looking forward to being in the middle of everything again ... I can’t wait. I expect students to love it.”
The new library will have more than 150 public computers and 1,000 seats of study space, from tables and desks to lounge chairs scattered throughout the building.
“We’ve tried to combine the traditional with a high-tech library,” Cirillo said. “Students still want books, but they also want the high-tech.”
The building’s three upper floors open to a central, freestanding staircase, lit by an enormous skylight. The entire building was designed with natural light in mind, said Andrew Soll, SSU vice president of finance and facilities.
The facility will have three classrooms, with a fourth that can be divided into two rooms, if needed. In addition to the library’s book and reference collections, the building will house a writing center, academic adviser offices, a center for disabled students, a faculty research area, a reading room for rare and antique books, staff offices, and numerous group study and conference rooms.
While the building is roughly the same size as the old library, the new building can fit more because it’s been custom-designed and has a more efficient use of space, Cirillo said.
Mayor Kim Driscoll, Sen. Joan Lovely, Rep. John Keenan, and City Councilors Josh Turiel and Joseph O’Keefe attended yesterday’s library tour.
Salem State enrolls approximately 10,000 undergraduate and graduate students. Once complete, the SSU library will also be open to the public.
The building’s architect is Shepley Bulfinch; Quincy-based Lee Kennedy Co. is construction manager.
Bethany Bray can be reached at email@example.com and on Twitter @SalemNewsBB.