College President Jack Ohle has recently announced a plan to renovate the Folke Bernodotte Memorial Library. Renovations plans were revealed at the Gustavus Library Associates (GLA) hosted fundraising gala, ‘A Royal Affair.’
As the press release stated, “The College’s strategic plan calls for a complete renovation of the library space to reflect the current needs of students and faculty as the library continues to support the academic mission of the College. The plans call for construction of dynamic learning rooms to facilitate collaborative learning for students, a newly designed entrance, more natural light, and a gateway between the Sesquicentennial Plaza and the Johns Family Courtyard. The project also includes additional space for the Hillstrom Museum of Art to move from its current location on the lower level of the C. Charles Jackson Campus Center.”
The plan to renovate the library is just one of many renovations the GLA has established.
“The event was one of a series of fundraisers that Gustavus Library Associates (GLA) has held throughout their long existence as an organization that supports the library. All of the proceeds of these events has gone into an endowment that we use to buy books and videos and subscribe to databases and journals. The money they have raised through these efforts is substantial and their endowment currently funds a lot of the content the library provides,” Professor and Librarian Barbara Fister said.
The 18th biennial gala took place on Saturday, Nov. 16 at the newly opened Radisson Blu at the Mall of America, and included dinner, a silent auction with over 200 items, music, and dancing. The benefit is the primary fundraiser for the Folke Bernadotte Library.
Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library Budget and Institutional Data Specialist Jeannie Peterson attended “A Royal Affair” this past week. Guests were able to bid on hundreds of silent auction items via mobile devices, including a labrador puppy and a V.I.P. room in the library, raising over $43,000.
“It was a grand affair with approximately 475 people in attendance. It was interesting to learn from Lynn McGinty and Sheryl Johnson, co-presidents of GLA, of the history of GLA originating with former Gustavus President Ed Lindell and his wife, Patty. With the fun of a lovely dinner, three scrumptious desserts, and the musical entertainment of Kim Beyer Fragodt Quintet, the evening of merriment, wonderful food, creative auctions, music and dancing all truly offered A Royal Affair,” Peterson said.
The successful event prompted the announcement of the library’s future renovations. The existing Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library opened in 1972, and it stands at the heart of campus.
“The renovation is primarily about improving the spaces in ways that will provide students with the best environment for their learning. The current library was designed before the Internet was invented, though I’ve seen a planning document from the 1960s that envisioned needing a flexible design that would accommodate new technology, which I think was fairly visionary. In reality, much of what matters when it comes to learning and discovery is technology-independent, but there are ways that we could make our library better suited to the ways students learn today. More space for groups has always been on the wish list, but we also hear from students that they also want private, quiet, contemplative spaces. And, of course, more power outlets. And we’ll be neighbors with a new art museum, which will offer nice synergies,” Fister said.
Fister expands on what future students can expect from the library in terms of study space and capabilities.
“The conversations have been limited to very general ideas–primarily to get a sense of what could be done with a target goal of a little over 8 million dollars. The idea at this point is to make the most of natural light, provide renovated group and individual study spaces that are attractive for students, and to provide a new entrance that would connect the library to a new art museum, while also opening it up to both north and south approaches,” Fister said.
No starting date has yet been set for the renovation.The project will move forward when it is fully funded, and the college projects that it will be completed over the next few years as part of Campaign Gustavus.
“We work with many donor constituencies simultaneously, and fundraising for some projects sometimes take longer than others. It is not a matter of [which renovations take precedence] but rather a timing question in terms of donor pledges. All of the current projects are in the board approved master plan for the college,” Provost and Dean of the College Mark Braun said.
Since the formation of GLA in 1977, they have raised over 2.5 million dollars for the library.
“We don’t have any doubt that the library will remain a vibrant site of student learning and engagement with ideas in the 21st century. It’s important for the community to have a physical intellectual commons, a place that is common ground for all of the disciplines that go into the curriculum, and a place where students can find their voices as scholars and as citizens. It’s exciting to think about a library renovation that will be shaped by those voices,” Fister said.