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UGA plans new collections library

ATHENS - A snippet of Jefferson Davis' hair, hundreds of old Georgia Bulldog football films and Sen. Richard Russell's political papers soon will get a new home, along with millions of other items now in the University of Georgia's main library on North Campus.

A 110,000-square-foot building planned for Waddell Street will give librarians state-of-the art rooms to store and preserve UGA's special collections - an ever-expanding vault of rare books, manuscripts and films.

But the public also will get to see more of the historical treasures once the new Special Collections Library opens.

'This is the place where Georgia's history and culture are preserved,' said Toby Graham, interim director of UGA's Hargrett Rare Books and Manuscripts Library.

The Hargrett is one of three special collections slated to move into the new building.

The Walter J. Brown Media Archives and Peabody Awards Collection, a vast collection of radio, TV and other recordings will move, as well as the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies, another huge collection of books, manuscripts and recordings.

Hundreds of old UGA football films and about 120,000 rare books are stored carefully - the football films in freezers to prevent degradation.

For more than a decade, library administrators have been planning the new building and raising money to cover $15 million of the $45 million cost. This year, the state government may provide the rest.

Gov. Sonny Perdue's proposed budget includes about $27 million for the special collections library, and the legislature last year appropriated about $3 million in planning money.

The new library could open as early as 2011, UGA Libraries Director William Potter said.

Besides room to store the collections, the library on Waddell Street will feature reading rooms for each of the collections, classroom space, a 200-seat lecture hall and - maybe most importantly - room to show off some of the treasures.