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New research center houses decades of Texas State archives

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Star File photo.

The Science, Technology and Advanced Research Park, otherwise known as STAR Park, opened the Archives and Research Center Sept. 20. This new addition will be open to students, staff, faculty and researchers. It will hold decades’ worth of university resources.

The new 14,000 square-foot addition is the third library facility operated by the University Libraries, which encompasses both Alkek and the Round Rock Campus Library. ARC is a climate controlled environment, kept at a stable, cold temperature and low humidity in order to preserve and prolong the life of the assets stored there.

Mike Ellis, manager of ARC, is looking forward to the many open doors this center will bring to the university.

“We are very excited,” Ellis said. “This will create opportunities in many aspects. The center will have great storage for materials that researchers can use. It will open up space in the library so that we can enhance it. This is a big positive for the university.”

Construction started in May 2016 and concluded June 2017. Harrison Kornberg Architects designed this project, which came to a total cost of $15,415,900.

The center will house a reading room to allow the public to review and interact with materials. The high-density shelving model will rise 35 feet high and will contain more than six miles of shelving space. A special artifact room was also added to the location, which will serve as a preservation area for art and artifacts such as oil paintings and wooden artifacts.

Deborah Pitts, marketing and promotions coordinator, worked alongside other librarians on the project since the beginning.

“It’s a little different concept than standard libraries,” Pitts said. “It’s high-density storage and the shelves are in what we call the high-pile room. So rather than the traditional library where things are placed based on their subject matter or based on their call number, it’s mostly just based on the size.”

The transfer of certain resources to the center will allow a greater preservation period while making space for more modern, technology-based resources. The construction of the majority of these new features will begin toward the end of 2018. However, Alkek is planning on publicly opening a video room next spring.

“We will be working on adding things like a maker space, a virtual technology center, different types of presentation and practice spaces,” Pitts said. “It’s accessible to students so they can do video presentations or really anything. Those types of things are what we are talking about, just giving more of the technology opportunities and research, collaborative spaces.”

The construction of the center has allowed Texas State to become a more predominant research facility, joining other traditional research schools like Rice, Stanford, University of Texas at Austin and Texas A&M.

“A large number of research universities have these types of facilities,” Pitts said. “Some of them are off-site, many miles away and nobody ever goes there or interacts with the space at all and it takes longer for things to get there, that sort of thing. But by adding this facility, we join a lot of those other research universities who had to expand for the very same reasons and find a way preserve and maintain their old research materials.”

The transfer of the selected materials, including University Archives and objects from the Wittliff Collections, will take several years. Upon completion, it is estimated the center will house over 1.4 million items.

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