Tuesday, August 28, 2001 Volume 66, Issue 5


 
 









 
Law library set to reopen with new entranceway

By Ken Fountain
Daily Cougar Staff

Justice may be blind, but it sure isn't waterproof.

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
entranceway.

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 law center.

"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 of Allison.

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 materials.

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
million.

"We had to crane them out in their cabinets," so that they could be taken to another private company to be individually hand-cleaned, Schultz
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
center.
 
 
 

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