The University of South Carolina board of trustees announced the reopening of the South Caroliniana Library and approved several other infrastructure development plans in a meeting on Friday.
The South Caroliniana Library, which houses research archives and special collections repositories, will host a grand opening ceremony on Oct. 5. The library has been closed to researchers and the public since 2017 for renovations, according to Assistant Vice President of Integrated Communications Peggy Binette.
"The library is one of the oldest university libraries in the nation," university spokesperson Jeff Stensland said. "This renovation will restore it to its original aesthetic while also allowing students and researchers a beautiful and historic place to learn."
The board also announced that the indoor track and field facility will be expanded in a $3.7 million project backed by private donors to add a new lobby and more restrooms for fan access, and a plan was also approved to purchase 16 acres of vacant land for construction of the Health Sciences Campus at the eastern edge of the BullStreet District adjacent to Harden Street.
Additionally, the board passed a campus housing master development plan, which will evaluate student housing facilities for renovation or replacement. The development plan will look at student housing facilities including Bates West, Columbia Hall, Capstone House, South Tower and the McBryde Quadrangle. According to university architect Derek Gruner, the university will soon be partnering with an undecided national developer to determine what land sites are financially viable for new housing.
The majority of the project involves renovating existing housing buildings, but the university is also considering using a parking lot across from the Discovery Garage to construct new housing, which could benefit returning students, according to Stensland.
"We know demand for on-campus housing, especially from upper class students, is outstripping our ability to provide it," Stensland said. "Having a new plan will ensure we can better meet future demand while ensuring a high-quality living/learning experience."
The board also received updates on the progress of development projects around campus that students can expect to see in the near future. The College of Nursing building at Lexington Medical Center is scheduled to be completed in June 2024. Construction of the east tower addition to the Science and Technology Building, which will add new classrooms as well as four new teaching labs, will begin in the summer of 2024 for use starting in the 2025-2026 academic year.
The university also remains engaged in development plans near the Congaree River and Williams-Brice Stadium. The university is already in possession of a large piece of vacant land around the river and plans to acquire four other surrounding plots — totaling 589 acres — to bundle into a multimillion-dollar project.
The board plans to continue exploring opportunities for the underdeveloped property, which will generate revenue to be shared across the university once it is owned by USC, according to Gruner. The land could potentially benefit the archeological and marine science programs by using some wetlands in the area, as well as create recreational opportunities for students.
“It’s really a fascinating piece of property that offers a lot of opportunities,” Gruner said.