Virginia Commonwealth University

Make it real.

Construction FAQs

Where, exactly, is the new building going?

Our urban university is landlocked. On the north side of Cabell (on the Park Avenue/Shafer Court side), the building has a deep and fairly large loading dock area. The new library will essentially be constructed in that open space and will wrap partly around the east side of the existing Cabell structure. The new building will be taller than today’s library but, out of respect for the architecture of the neighboring Cathedral of the Sacred Heart, the new roofline will be below the cathedral’s dome. In addition to 93,000 square feet of new space, the project includes renovating and improving 63,000 square feet of existing space. The result will be an exciting new academic hub in the center of the Monroe Park Campus.

How will the new building affect tuition costs or student fees?

The design and construction costs won’t affect tuition and fees. Funding for those costs are from the Commonwealth of Virginia, which has allocated $50.8 million. In addition, VCU Libraries is raising an additional $10 million from private donors to support some building costs and provide endowments for the future.  The state does not provide money to open and operate the new building. Funding options to cover those operating costs are now being explored by the university and may affect fees.

Will Cabell be closed during construction?

No. Our students need access to library services and materials and we will continue to maintain our around-the-clock operating schedule. It will be noisy and dusty. It will be chaotic at times and we ask our patrons’ patience. At certain points during construction, some student space will be lost to the building process.

How can I find out what’s going on with Cabell construction and how it will affect my studying and academic research?

The most authoritative and up-to-date sources will be on our website and also on the Construction Update site. You can also look for signs in the building or follow Cabell on Twitter or friend us on Facebook.

We’ll do our best to schedule the loudest work during less-busy times. The loudest work—removing the precast from the current exterior—will be done over the summer. During the academic year, the noisiest work will be confined to the early morning hours of 2 a.m. to 10 a.m. and on weekends when Cabell Library is closed.

Alerts about noise levels and construction schedules will be posted to the library website and, as is feasible, to TelegRAM. Observers will be able to glean construction updates and watch progress on a webcam soon.  

What will new building look like?

The space will be transformed. See renderings and details

What about Starbucks?

Not to worry. Starbucks will remain open during its regular hours. The new library will have a greatly expanded café.

I see lots of book shelves and books being moved. What’s going on?

To prepare for construction, we needed to relocate some materials. Materials on the east side of the third floor, for instance, have been moved because replacement offices are being built there. Internally, we’ve called this months-long process The Big Shift. Every book in the building will be touched at least once by the time all materials are shifted by summer 2014. Some items are going into storage. Other items that were once “reference” materials (and couldn’t be checked out) are now part of the circulating collection. Some outdated items have been recycled. Other materials have been donated to other libraries. For all the details

What about scheduling instructional sessions with librarians? 

Faculty should reserve or make requests in the usual way on the regular form.s Faculty members can also just call their department or discipline liaison. Our subject matter expert librarians are also seeking ways to ramp up their outreach to contacts in departments and various constituent groups. Likely, we will be scheduling more office hours outside of Cabell to bring library services to you. Look for details on our website and in TelegRAM.

Can I arrange a class visit to Special Collections and Archives?

Yes. Our temporary and in-transition space will have limited room for instruction sessions and group presentations. We will welcome classes if possible. Our Special Collections and Archives staff is also considering ways we might be able to share materials with classes outside of Cabell. Contact us with specific questions.

Will VCU Libraries … Presents and other events be held as usual?

  • The Library Fest open house, in August during Welcome Week orientation activities, will be held. We might be giving out earplugs instead of bookmarks this year!
  • The annual Friends of the Library book sale will not be held in fall semester 2014.
  • Exhibition space in the fourth floor will be part of renovations and there are no exhibits planned during fall or spring semesters 2014 and 2015.
  • VCU Libraries will continue to partner with organizations and units on and off campus in offering a rich array of public programming during the construction phase.