The Manuscripts, Archives, and Rare Book Library (MARBL), currently undergoing renovations to create more spacious and efficient facilities, is now open to the public.
Construction is set to finish in October and changes will include full-length glass windows as well as balconies that overlook Emory’s campus. . MARBL will also release 150,000 print titles as well as 1,300 collections for display.
A high demand from both students and faculty for the growth of MARBL spaces and services initially sparked these adjustments. Now, following months of planning and subsequent construction that began in May of 2014, the extensions to the current MARBL collections are almost completed and available for the public to view throughout September, which will act as a preview period before MARBL officially opens in October.
The new MARBL will include areas geared towards classroom instruction as well as a reading room, vistas that overlook the Emory campus and the Atlanta skyline and Americans with Disabilities Act-compliant tables with adjustable heights in order to meet the needs of various students.
It will also be much more spacious — the reading room which previously could only accommodate 9 researchers will now have the ability to house “16 researchers in a secured, climate-controlled environment where both patrons and materials can co-exist comfortably,” according to MARBL Administrative Services and Program Coordinator Christeene Alcosiba. Alcosiba has had a multi-faceted role in making decisions concerning the floor plans, coordinating the staff, organizing communication related to the project and making visitors feel welcome and comfortable as they adjust to the new spaces.
In addition, the renovations will feature the latest digital and technological resources for research from technology-enabled meeting spaces to document cameras and video-conferencing software. MARBL will continue to maintain a close connection to the books themselves in their physical formats, according to MARBL Director Rosemary Magee.
The additions, which will be located on the 10th level of Woodruff Library, will showcase born-digital texts, or texts that originated on digital devices, as well as print resources throughout poetic, literary and historical departments, and include works from the likes of Alice Walker, a well-known author, and Flannery O’Connor, a notable 20th century novelist and essayist. The materials will focus on African American and Southern studies, modern politics, literature, Irish poetry and Emory University archives. MARBL has been accumulating these resources over time but now intends to make them more accessible and boost their importance throughout the Emory community.
“It’s a spectacularly beautiful space where one can conduct groundbreaking research and still have the opportunity to view rare materials and access the latest audiovisual teaching materials. It’s a place where you can see firsthand resources such as Walt Whitman’s ‘Leaves of Grass,’ ” Magee said.
Exhibitions of Flannery O’Connor’s work, alongside displays of Alice Walker and other distinguished writers, will include drafts and manuscripts of her novels and essays, journals from her time as a college student and over 600 letters used by O’Connor to correspond with her mother while away from home. The displays will focus on the ways in which the experiences and growth of individuals caused them to develop into successful writers.
Alcosiba believes that “the new MARBL will appeal to anyone who visits by virtue of its beautiful open space” while still encouraging a rigorous work ethic as it highlights “both the astounding range of materials at MARBL, but also the work that has come from them — the diverse and delightful publications, interactions, events, and collaborations that are possible.”
College sophomore Katherine Dautrich said she visited MARBL a few times previously but that she now feels that the space is “much more conducive to learning and studying.”
Graduate student Anna Miles agreed, describing the space as “open and inviting” and calling the balcony a space with “the ability to center yourself before you study.”