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Snow College opens library of the future

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 3 2010 2:38 p.m. MDT

The front of the newly completed Karen H. Huntsman Library is seen at Snow College.

Snow College

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EPHRAIM — When Snow College students return to campus this week, they'll have a new place to study and socialize with the completion of the Karen H. Huntsman Library.

Statues of the college's namesakes, Lorenzo and Erastus Snow, stand on the front plaza, but this is a building of the future, with far more comforts and conveniences than its cramped predecessor.

Snow College President Scott Wyatt, writing recently on his blog, ticked off some of the features: study rooms, a cafe, an outside terrace on the third level and two high-tech auditoriums.

"Oh, and books!" he added.

Eighty percent of those books will be on mobile, sliding shelves that shift together or apart at the touch of a button. According to Jon Ostler, Snow College's director of libraries, that makes room for more study space, where students will be allowed to move furniture around and create their own environment.

It's a recognition of how student behavior has changed. Browsing? Wandering among the stacks? "That's not happening much anymore," Ostler said.

Indeed, the library is shifting toward digital sources. It now has more e-books (65,000) than print titles (50,000) in its collection. Online journals outnumber print subscriptions 25,000 to 200.

The 72,000-square-foot building was designed to be more inviting, with tall ceilings and ample windows providing airy spaces with natural light. It also features a radial staircase wrapped around a dangling modern chandelier.

The library is a "green" building, expected to be the first academic library in the state to achieve gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification. The 18-month, $18 million construction project, planned since 2005 and aided by a $2 million gift from the Huntsman family, came in "several million dollars" under budget, according to Wyatt.

Ostler said the initial response upon giving tours to Snow College trustees and others has been positive.

"I'm elated. It's absolutely a dream come true," he said. "The main comment has been, 'Wow.' … It's an inspiring building."

The library is named after the wife of chemicals magnate Jon M. Huntsman Sr.

e-mail: pkoepp@desnews.com

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