Education Lab

Fresno State's expanded Madden Library reopens

Let the checking out begin. After a 21/2-year, $105 million construction project, Fresno State's newly expanded Madden Library reopens for business today.

The four-story building with a full basement -- now the largest California State University library -- towers over the center of the campus.

Only the Save Mart Center is bigger at California State University, Fresno.

The 340,000-square-foot library, which is named for former university librarian Henry Madden, has a new north wing and a refurbished south wing. University officials held a ribbon-cutting Thursday.

For those who judge a structure by numbers, here are a few that went into the construction:

-- 1,500 tons of steel.

-- 5,451 bolts.

-- 1,913 beams.

-- 177 columns.

And let's not forget the books.

The library has about 1.3 million books and periodicals; each year it checks out 250,000 to 290,000 books, which end to end would stretch more than 50 miles, university officials said.

Table Mountain Rancheria, which runs a casino northeast of Fresno, donated $10 million to the project.

It represents the single largest cash gift to the university. Fresno State used the donation to decorate the new library with American Indian-inspired architecture, such as an elliptical, basket-shaped entrance.

The state's financial crisis delayed purchase of new furniture for the library, officials said.

So the university is using older tables and chairs from storage and newly purchased folding tables and chairs to provide study space.

Since the Legislature approved a new budget plan early Thursday, university officials are hopeful that they'll soon have money to pay for new furniture.