What About the New Library?

Since the new Sawyer building project was put on hold in October 2008, the design has been completed. The construction documents (CDs), an 800-page set of blueprints, were finished in May 2009. The extra time that we spent last winter and spring reviewing the CDs has without question resulted in an improved design, particularly on interior layout and material use.

Future new Stetson lawn and new Sawyer Library

The CDs were used this summer as the basis for an independent pricing exercise to determine whether the project remained on budget. The good news is that it does!

A fair question is "How can we be sure that new Sawyer Library, as it will be called, will provide a long-term answer to campus library needs for 50-100 years?" With the assistance of the Bohlin Cywinski Jackson architects, and the involvement of the Stetson/Sawyer Building Committee, librarians and information technologists, and the President's Senior Staff, the building has been designed to meet changing needs over the years ahead. In particular, the collection area will accommodate compact shelving on all levels; an off-site shelving facility can accommodate growing collections while ensuring that users are not squeezed out by books; raised floors and demountable walls in areas most impacted by technology changes will facilitate repurposing space; and standard floor to ceiling heights will allow conversion of selective collection space to such people-centric functions as classrooms and academic support should that be desired.

We are convinced that we have designed an extraordinary library for the future of our most exceptional college. We are in a very good place once general economic conditions and the college budget situation allow us to begin construction. That time has not yet come…but we will be ready when it does!


Could you put those plans on-line so that the rest of the Williams community could look at them? Surely the architect has them in electronic form . . .

David Kane said on February 3rd, 2010 at 9:14 am

The architects' most current plans are too large and detailed to post. The plans currently on the site [] give an excellent idea of the layout in most of its details.

Thanks for your comment and interest in the project.

David Pilachowski said on February 3rd, 2010 at 4:43 pm

Thanks! That is more than enough detail for me.

Alas, I have trouble understanding the plans . . .

Key question: I appreciate that the space is designed so that, if there is less need for the physical storage of books/periodicals, some of that space can be re-purposed for class rooms and the like. Excellent idea!

Could you provide some more details on that:

1) How much square footage (or percent of total space) is currently devoted to book/periodical storage?

2) How much of that space could be changed to other uses?

David Kane said on February 3rd, 2010 at 7:15 pm

Yes, the floor plans are not as transparent as the building will be. The open stack collection space is in the northeast quadrant of the building on each floor and is shown as lots of parallel lines. Roughly speaking, those stacks occupy about one-third of the space. Potentially, the collection space on three of the four floors (all but Level 4) could be converted for other uses.

I hope that helps.

David Pilachowski said on February 4th, 2010 at 11:30 am