Billings to get facelift

Space may soon be available for students on the lower levels of the Bailey/Howe Library as the Special Collections Department is moved across campus. The University plans to renovate Billings Library so that it can house the Special Collections from Bailey/Howe Library, according to a newsletter published by the College of Arts and Life Sciences. “The Billings Library is UVM’s greatest architectural treasure and an important part of our heritage,” said Jeffrey D. Marshall, director of Special Collections. “It ought to be used in a way that is appropriate to that heritage.” The project is entering its fundraising stage and will hopefully be completed within five years, Marshall said. Marshall said that he is excited to see this project completed and hopes that the new center will become a thriving academic building. Changes to the building include the restoration of the main great hall and the relocation of Special Collections to Billings’ North Lounge, which will create an important research tool, Marshall said. By emptying space in the library, crowding issues should be less of a problem for students at Bailey/Howe, he said. “The Library Dean’s office is now initiating the development of a master plan for Bailey/Howe that will include looking at the best use for the space we vacate,” he said. A newsletter article and renovation sketches released by the College of Arts and Sciences gives students an image of what the redesigned Billings Center will look like. “Imagine entering the Great Hall through the arched doorway,” the newsletter stated. “One encounters various conversations as groups of students, faculty, and guests lounge in front of the magnificent stone fireplace.” Included in the renovation plans are new compact shelving units, work areas and staff offices that will replace much of Billings ground floor, according to the newsletter. The newsletter also describes the numerous state-of-the-art shelving units to ensure the security and safety of the Special Collections. “This area more then doubles storage capacity for Special Collections,” according to the newsletter. “More important, it features climate control and security for rare and unique collections.” Some students said they believe Billings is one of the nicer places at campus, and they are excited to see it get a much-needed upgrade. “Billings is by far my favorite place to study,” sophomore Ethan Blouin said. “It’s one of the best kept secrets on campus.” Blouin said he hopes the new Billings Center will offer the same solitude and studying areas and looks forward to visiting the new hall.