UW News

November 7, 2002

Exhibit, poster tell story of library

News and Information

A small, understated exhibit at Suzzallo Library tells the story of the library’s glorious beginnings and recent, painstaking restoration.

And at the very entrance to the exhibit, just north of the main entrance, is a simple poster, recognizing the contributions of the staff of Engineering Services.

The poster is the creation of Marian Gee, secretary supervisor. It consists of a series of portals within a stylized version of one of Suzzallo’s arched windows, showing various phases of construction — and, in the center bottom panels, several Engineering Services employees.

“I pieced this together with photographs I took over the course of the renovation,” says Gee, who recently completed a graphic design course from UW Extension. The goal of her work was simply to create something new to decorate the walls of her unit’s humble dwelling place, a double-tall trailer east of the HUB. “I wanted to provide a bit of the story behind the story,” she says. After she showed the poster to some people at the library, they liked it so much that it became part of the exhibit. The posters are now on sale from UW Libraries for $10.

Engineering Services, which is a unit of Facilities Services, provides support for the design, construction and maintenance of UW facilities. They work to assure that buildings on campus are built to UW standards, which in many cases exceed current building codes.

They are the creators of the Facilities Design Information manual, which is provided to contractors who must build according to university standards. This manual helps to ensure that campus buildings have a long life — much longer than their commercial counterparts. It also helps contractors to build structures that are relatively low maintenance, and allow for extensive retrofitting over their expected long life.

The engineers and architects in Gee’s unit work with the contractors, going over the drawings and visiting the building site, to ensure that new buildings or remodels are using the right materials applied in the right way. And they were on site at Suzzallo from beginning to end.

From its earliest days, as the exhibit makes clear, Suzzallo has been a special building in the hearts of those who live and work here. Henry Suzzallo called the library “the soul of the university,” and few would argue. The exhibit is populated with the remembrances of those who used it — even those who slept in the building which students have often referred to as “Snoozalo.”

The exhibit has large photographs of particular phases of the retrofit, which sought to make the building earthquake safe without changing its essential visual elements. One entire display case contains the business cards of the many people, both University employees and private contractors, who worked on the project.

Gee plans to continue her poster-making, with shots from the Law School, the Surgery Pavilion and the IMA.

Copies of Gee’s poster may be purchased from the Manuscripts, Special Collections, University Archives Division of the University Libraries in the basement of the south wing of the Allen Library. Buyers unable to come to the library can order the posters by calling 206-543-1929 or e-mailing speccoll@u.washington.edu. A mailing fee will be added to the $10 poster fee.

Suzzallo dedication Nov. 14
The UW will host a dedication ceremony for Suzzallo Library from 2:30 to 3:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 14.

The event celebrates the completion of the two-year renovation project and also the 75th anniversary of the opening of the original library, which never had a formal dedication ceremony. All members of the university community are invited to attend.

The ceremony will include a formal academic procession, followed by remarks from UW President Richard L. McCormick; Director of University Libraries Betsy Wilson; and Norman Johnston, professor emeritus from the College of Architecture and Urban Planning.

Linda Bierds, UW professor of English, will read a poem she has written for the occasion. Students from the School of Music also will perform.

The ceremony will be followed by a reception.