CARBONDALE - Susan Tulis of Morris Library at Southern Illinois University Carbondale remembers the old building before renovation began in January 2006.
"If I didn't take the same staircase, I'd get lost. It was a challenge to figure out where you were," said Tulis, an associate dean for library information services.
Tulis pointed at windows on the south side of the recently completed fifth floor and spoke about an enhanced sense of orientation the new library offers because each floor follows a similar design.
"This is one thing we really like. You get a sense of where you are at all times," Tulis said.
University workers are putting the finishing touches on the fifth, fourth and third floors of Morris Library as the massive $48 million project heads into its final stages.
An open house for the public to view those floors will be from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 18. University officials will speak at 2 p.m. the same day.
Barring any further delays, a grand opening celebrating the entire renovation/expansion project is anticipated for October.
The library will finish out with work in the basement that will provide more than 21/2 times more space for storage and on the ground floor.
An entrance on the north side of the library will open up into a social area for library and other community patrons to gather with nearby access to a 500-seat auditorium.
A large, kinetic Evan Lewis sculpture, "Wings of Knowledge," will soar three floors up inside the ground-floor entrance.
"We spent the last week moving books," Tulis said about shelving approximately 640,000 books on the fifth floor, which includes six group study rooms.
Other moving projects include relocating 80 public computers to the third floor and temporarily housing reference books, periodicals, newspapers and microfilm on the same floor until the first floor is finished.
One of the highlights of the third floor is the American Heritage Room complete with antique furniture and a Lincoln collection. The room contains enough space and amenities to host meetings such as the regular SIU Board of Trustees meetings, Tulis said.