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Investment in safer and more efficient installations

PUC prepares the ground for longer steps

It is not only public institutions that receive the support of Fapesp’s Infrastructure Program. Many private and other institutions are receiving investments to expand and to improve their services. One of the biggest investments made by the Foundation in the libraries – around R$ 1.8 million – was in São Paulo’s Pontifical Catholic University (PUC). It was a sum that allowed the 4,350 square meters of the library and of the Documentation and Scientific Information Center (Cedic), on Monte Alegre street, in the Perdizes district, in the state capital, to be completely renovated, furnished and equipped.

“To keep pace with technological development, a great investment in physical reforms was needed”, points out the head librarian, Ana Maria Rapassi, to explain why only now, with funds from FAPESP, is the computerization of the library under way. The first stage of the reform, concluded in September 1999, has already made the installations more comfortable, safer, and more efficient. A technological infrastructure was also created, which will allow the implementation of more modern systems of support for research, such as the access to scientific databases and electronic periodicals.

The first obstacle was found in the precarious electrical installations. The system was so bad that it was in no condition to support a reasonable number of computers. That is why only a part of the administrative services was computerized. Part of the collection had been cataloged electronically, but there were no means of installing a network system, so the consultations were limited to the area of the library. There were other serious problems. The hydraulic installations, for example, were also very bad. And the strong heat in the interior of the building called for an air-conditioning system, so the equipment would not be damaged by the high temperatures.

First edition
With the first works, it was already possible to unify the collection, which used to be split between two libraries. “Both of them had run out of space” says Ana Maria. It was also possible to gather the collection of rare and old works together in a special room. Restricting access to these works was an essential step to ensure their safety and conservation. Amongst these valuable books, there is a first edition of Os Sermões, by Father Antônio Vieira, of 1679.

Afflicted by lack of space, Cedic was relocated from the ground floor to the basement. This gave the library a large open area at the entrance, where a small auditorium was set up for exhibitions and book launchings. The auditorium, called the Monte Alegre Cultural Center, is a success. It is always booked up six months ahead. As for Cedic, it now has 300 square meters, compared with the 100 meters it had before. The expansion in its space permitted the installation of a microfilming laboratory and other installations, such as an audio laboratory that can reproduce recordings with digital quality. Nothing that reminds of the old, cramped installations.