Hungry athletes will replace books at college library

And so, with a cardboard box and roll of packing tape, it begins. Throughout the Canada Winter Games, the Yukon College library will morph into a…

And so, with a cardboard box and roll of packing tape, it begins.

Throughout the Canada Winter Games, the Yukon College library will morph into a massive dining hall for hungry athletes.

Six hundred are expected for dinner. And breakfast. And lunch.

And so, the entire library will be gutted to make way for tables and chairs.

“Most of the college is going to be used as the athletes’ village and some stuff is going to have to be moved out and things are going to have to be put away, but it’s not a case of a total gutting,” said college spokesperson Spence Hill.

“But in the case of the library, everything has to go.”

This enormous task began Friday morning.

Professional movers cleared the 2,428 library shelves and packed the books into 3,000 boxes needed for this project.

“What we’ve done is we’ve looked at the layout of the library with blueprints and all that sort of stuff — labelled everything and measured everything and photographed everything — and then we printed out labels for each one of the shelves and each one of the units themselves, so every single upright and every single shelf has a coded label on it,” said library manager Rob Sutherland.

“As the movers come in, each box will have a corresponding number on that so, as the books are taken off the shelves, they’ll go into a box.”

Because of the planning — and, perhaps, a little luck — all the boxes will be labelled correctly, allowing the thousands of books to return to their proper place on the shelves once the sporting event is over.

Along with the books and magazines being hauled away are 79 chairs, 18 couches and armchairs, 33 study carrels, 31 tables, 10 computers and 27 small plants.

They’ll all be stored for the month the library is closed.

“Any way you look at it, it’s a big job and it involved a lot of planning and co-ordination to make it all happen smoothly,” said Sutherland.

“Then it always comes down to the day of the move and you find out what you’ve forgotten and haven’t forgotten and all of those good things.”

The library closed to students Thursday at 4 p.m. and won’t open again until March 19.

The athletes don’t take over the college until 4 p.m. February 21, allowing a full week to pack the library.

Classes run until then, so the students will have to make do without a library.

February 26 through March 2 is the students’ regular reading break so, though classes are cancelled, the academic year is not interrupted for that week.

The following week, classes have been cancelled.

Students were warned by library staff to withdraw all the resource materials they need for reading week before the library closed.

“That is a significant difference this year, that our library and computer labs are out of the loop for reading week, but students have been given lots of notice and classes started early in August and classes started early in January to accommodate this break in the academic year,” said Hill.

“When students signed up for classes in August, it was clearly marked on their registration forms that there was going to be this break and it was in the calendar that classes were going to be suspended, so it’s not a surprise to anybody.

“I think that some students are going, ‘Oh yeah, right, I better get my books,’ but professors and instructors have reminded students at the beginning of the semester that there’s going to be this break; you’re going to need to get your resource materials ahead of time.”

Library loans are fine-free for the duration of the closure.

“We had a record number of applications for inter-library loans, which is great, it means the library did their job in getting the message out that if you want an inter-library loan, you better get your request in. And if they have been so foolish as to have left it they can still do an inter-library loan through the public library downtown,” said Hill.

The week after the Games, the library will remain closed so the carpet can be replaced.

As well, some walls will be torn down to improve traffic flow to the college cafeteria and dining hall.

With the college and library closed during the Games, especially during reading week, the students will lose a popular study location.

But the archives and Whitehorse Public Library are still available.

“They’ve gone to a lot of work to make it easier for students so they aren’t very affected,” said Hill.