Why Can't I Enter the Polk Library from the Elmwood Street Side?

Polk Library was built as two buildings (the north in 1961, and the south in 1969) joined by a connecting corridor.  When this corridor/lobby was completed, it did feature entrances on both the Elmwood and the Mall sides.  With two entrances so close to one another, it made for a popular passageway for students living on the east side of campus. In the winter, this caused problems with melting snow left behind; it was unsafe and unsightly.  The two entrances also made heating and cooling the building difficult.  

As early as 1978, the campus was investigating the inefficiencies caused by the two phased building construction.  In 1986, UW Oshkosh planned a major renovation that would correct many of these problems and make the building more secure, less labor intensive to staff  and more unified with a single circulation desk placed in the lobby of the building.  This last feature required a bump-out of the first floor lobby area eastward toward Elmwood.  This feature  required the closing  of the Elmwood entrance as that space near the street would contain only secure areas and offices.

The renovation project’s budget was $2.5 million, but only $1.4 million was provided by the Board of Regents.  One of the major things lost in the project’s revision was the bump-out. Instead, circulation was built in the north wing where it remains today.  The mall side porch was extended to include the basement elevator and the outer lobby space found today.  Despite the lack of construction on the courtyard, the Elmwood entrance was still closed off.  The north entrance was also closed, achieving the more more secure single entrance the planners desired.  While the improvements the change brought to temperature control are debatable, snow and water are rarely a problem in the lobby.  Since that time, a lack of resources in the intervening years has disallowed any further renovation in this area.  

Today, space planning continues on campus. Polk Library has made it clear to campus planners that in addition to our other building needs, the east courtyard could be utilized much better and that a reconstructed lobby area with both entrances would be helpful to many students and faculty.  For that to be possible, however, the eastern entrance would need to be expanded in a way similar to how the mall side entrance was completed so as to contain cold air and snow. Security gates would need to be installed and traffic flows reworked.    We hope that a remodeling of Polk could accomplish all of this effectively.