Law library set to reopen
with new entranceway
By Ken Fountain
Daily Cougar Staff
Justice may be blind, but it sure isn't
When Tropical Storm Allison slammed into
the University of Houston, the hardest-hit building on campus was the UH
Law Center, particularly
the John M. O'Quinn Law Library.
Johnny Kow/The Daily Cougar
Monday's rains temporarily
halt work on the new $1.5 million entranceway to the UH Law Center and
the John M. O'Quinn Law Library,
expected to be completed in a few weeks.
But in a few weeks, the library will turn
the page on the summer disaster when construction is completed on its new
$1.5 million public
The entranceway, a wide open-air staircase
which descends from an upper level to the ground-level top floor of the
library, will serve as the
"front door" to both the library and the
"The library has always been a big and
important one, which of course is very important to a law school," said
Jon Schultz, the Law Center's
associate dean for information services
and library director. "But it wasn't visible from the exterior."
In fact, the entire four-building law center
complex never had a well-defined entryway, he said. The library itself
could only be accessed by
entering the main law center building
and going down one floor.
"What the new entranceway does is give
us an entry that invites people in," Schultz said.
When the entryway is completed in about
a month, it will represent a much-needed morale boost following the effects
On June 6, water rushing through the University's
underground tunnel system surged into the library's lower level, ruining
in a few hours several
lifetimes' worth of painstakingly collected
Approximately 250,000 volumes, valued at
nearly $25 million, were ruined, Schultz said. Additionally, the 35,000-sq.
ft. space was ruined,
requiring it to be completely gutted.
Among the most critical losses from the
library's holdings was a collection of admiralty law materials donated
by former federal judge John R.
Brown. Brown specialized in cases involving
admiralty law, which deals with shipping by sea.
Fortunately, Brown's archived personal
papers, which he also donated, were salvageable, Schultz said. The papers
were sent to a private
company to be "freeze-dried," he said.
Another company was able to save approximately 1.2 million microfiche documents,
valued at $10-12
"We had to crane them out in their cabinets,"
so that they could be taken to another private company to be individually
said. "It was a very tedious process."
Other major losses included the library's
repository of government documents and its foreign and international law
collections, including an
extensive collection of Mexican law texts.
Schultz said the underground space will
not be converted to student services spaces after renovations are complete.
As yet, there is not yet a
plan to build a new facility to house
the thousands of lost volumes when they are eventually replaced. While
there is funding available to replace
the collections, there is none yet for
a new building.
Currently, many of the library's books
are being stored in spaces in the Chinese Star shopping center across Calhoun
Boulevard. from the law