According to Construction Project Manager Seth Millam, the new Chalmers Library will not be open for student use this semester.
“Getting that building open and ready to go for the start of fall semester 2021,” Millam said, “that’s the new mission.”
President Sean Decatur revised the estimate he made in December of last year, when he said the library would be open by April, saying, “It depends on what you mean by ‘open’ and it depends on what you mean by ‘this semester.’ … If by ‘open’ meaning it’s a fully functional library, not this semester.” He added that he believes students would have the opportunity to walk through the building by May.
The Chalmers Library was originally set to be completed last summer, but the date has since been pushed back several times. One main issue, according to Millam, is supply chain constraints. “With a big construction project like this and relying on manufacturers and other states, we’re still running into issues with material procurement,” Millam said.
The COVID-19 pandemic has also presented a challenge to construction. Labor shortages have been an issue since the beginning of the pandemic and have affected the speed of the construction, Millam explained.
The library project began in September of 2018, following an anonymous donation of $75 million. It is the first building being constructed as part of the West Quad Project, which will also feature a new admissions building and a new academic building, partially intended to replace Ascension Hall as it undergoes renovations. The library is anticipated to act as an academic hub, housing study spaces, the Career Development Office and classrooms.
The new library is designed to be an environmentally friendly addition to Kenyon’s Campus, and was created with environmental impact in mind. According to the Kenyon website, the new library “will be significantly greener and more energy efficient than the previous buildings.”
Millam hopes that at the least current seniors will get to see the inside of the library before the end of the semester. “We were doing tours of the projects for students on Friday afternoons [before the pandemic] and I do hope to restart that at some point,” he said.