Filling a void

“The health of our civilization, the depth of our awareness about the underpinnings of our culture and our concern for the future can all be tested by how well we support our libraries.” —Carl Sagan

Before we delve into the present or travel into the future of the Arthur Lakes Library, we will first explore the twists and turns of historical accounts of Mines’ many libraries.

1890. The year that CSM gained its first library, once standing in the space that is now Hill Hall. The School of Mines is now a bonafide “School of Applied Science.” The Romanesque Revival architectural styling, designed by Denver-based architect Roeschlaud, of the building cluster adds to the collegiate prestige of the expanding institute of higher education.

1906. A new library, auditorium, and additional classrooms are provided by an $80,000 donation from Simon Guggenheim, heir to a mining and smelting family. Guggenheim Hall accommodates the increasing enrollment at Mines which has reached 298 students by 1907. 

1941. The Library of Congress publication Guide to Library Facilities for National Defense names the CSM library as one of the “finest technical libraries” in the country offering a comprehensive set of volumes in the fields of mining, metallurgy, and geology among other subjects. 

1955. Funding through a state tax dedicated to capital improvement of Colorado public universities spurs construction of numerous campus buildings including Arthur Lakes Library on the site of the original Gymnasium. The student population of 1,000 will quickly triple within the next several decades. 

1978. The library is expanded to twice its original size.  

As of late, small-scale improvements, modifications, rearrangements, and conservative collection “weeding” (pruning the library’s volumes as it it were a garden) have kept a large-scale renovation at bay. For instance, library faculty and staff have sought and achieved improvements to information resources, engagement and outreach initiatives, and strategic partnerships based on Mines community forums and student polling. 

The library stands at its 1978 size when it accommodated 2,000 students, presently the Arthur Lakes library serves nearly 6,600 undergraduate and graduate students.  

CHANGE. Perhaps change is not a word you would normally associate with a library. Students are taught from elementary school that libraries are solely a place for the collection and preservation of books, periodicals, films, maps, and other cultural, economic, social, and political artifacts. Rather, from the library of Alexandria to the present, libraries have communicated our fluid commitment to knowledge creation. “Beyond mere functionality, you can tell the values of a community based on the condition of their library… This is the place where you are going to learn. You want to do that in a place that inspires your minds and hearts to soar,” attests University Librarian Carol Smith. 

After musing on the past we will investigate the impending yet uncertain library renovation that just may hinge on your action.  A sneak peak…“There is no projected date. This has been an ongoing request…. The money has continuously not been set aside for that. I think there needs to be a more complete conversation with some of the administration about why this has not been a priority,” stated a GSG Representative regarding a renovation of the Arthur Lakes Library. 

Food for thought, what is delaying the renovation of our library? Until the next issue, the writings on the wall.

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