Jerome Library in need of renovations

More than four years after a Toledo engineering firm said Jerome Library needed $15 million worth of renovations, little has been done about it – and nothing is planned for the near future.

Lorraine Haricombe, dean of libraries at the University, said a lack of funds has kept her from making the necessary repairs to the plumbing, lighting and climate control.

“We think by redesigning and rethinking this library … it would be hopefully much more welcoming,” Haricombe said. “But we still need money to do this.”

The library is actively pursuing donations from alumni and other benefactors through its Web site, the Friends of the Library Board and the Libraries’ Centennial Campaign.

“We’ve had success,” Haricombe said, “As we get money, we’ll look for small steps to take.”

But she admitted a larger donation or series of donations would be necessary to fund the renovations.

“It will probably need to be a focused campaign [to raise the money],” she said, though no such campaign is currently in the works.

Bob Waddle, assistant vice president for the University’s Capital Planning department, oversees structural improvements to the campus.

“That building’s getting to the age that it needs a bit of a makeover,” Waddle said of the nearly 40-year-old Jerome Library. “A lot of that is still being worked out with what the folks in the library want.”

He said he balances expenditures with the physical and program-related needs of the library, and with the needs of other buildings on campus.

“Hannah, Mosely and University [halls] … are getting old, so they have a lot of the same water-tight problems,” Waddle said.

But those halls cannot be easily improved with computer labs or even air conditioners because old wiring prevents high power drains, he said. That makes Jerome Library a more likely candidate for improvements due to its facilities being newer and easier to repair.

“What needs the money the most is the infrastructure – the HVAC system,” Waddle said in reference to the library’s heating, ventilating and air conditioning system, which prevents books from being damaged by high humidity.

“I certainly hope we can do something for [the library],” Waddle said. “It’s a beautiful building.”