SMU's Year of the Library
Special events and exhibitions usher in a second century of excellence
SMU's Year of the Library opened with fanfare at Tables of Content, the annual fundraiser hosted by the Friends of the SMU Libraries March 23. As the University's multiyear observance of centennial milestones continues, 2013 marks the 100th anniversary of the appointment of its first librarian and the beginning of a second-century transformation.
In introducing the yearlong celebration, President R. Gerald Turner declared the libraries "fundamentally important" to SMU's trajectory as a nationally ranked institution of higher education and its continuing success. That vote of confidence recognizes the distinctive role libraries play in University life, today and tomorrow.
"This is a very exciting time for the SMU libraries," comments Gillian M. McCombs, Dean and Director, Central University Libraries (CUL). "In addition to marking historic milestones, the commemoration recognizes plans to update and expand the campus libraries and open more of our priceless collections to the world."
From now through the fall semester, a series of special Year of the Library events invite students, alumni, friends and community visitors to discover CUL's rich resources and one-of-a-kind collections and learn more about the innovative renovation of Fondren Library Center.
Among the programs and exhibitions will be two remarkable experiences. The first begins with Founders' Day week activities, including the annual CUL cookout on the Laura Bush Promenade April 16-17, and a lecture and book signing by acclaimed author and SMU alumnus Joe Coomer at DeGolyer Library April 18 (see pg. 6). Of special interest to alumni returning to the Hilltop is "SMU Campus Memories: A Digital Collection," an exhibition of selections from the SMU Archives at Fondren Library. It continues through June 24.
On Founders' Day, April 19, CUL will join with other SMU libraries in a special presentation welcoming the George W. Bush Presidential Library and Museum, part of the Bush Presidential Center, to campus. The festivities serve as a prelude to the dedication of the Center April 25. SMU's libraries will host open houses that afternoon to showcase their treasures on exhibit.
The second historic occasion occurs in July, when DeGolyer Library will display a priceless piece of American history. President George Washington's personal copy of the Acts of Congress (left), including the United States Constitution and a draft of the Bill of Rights with his handwritten notations, will be on public view July 14-27.
More details about the exhibit — a joint presentation by SMU, the Bush Library and the Mount Vernon Ladies' Association — will be released later in the spring.
While on campus, the prized volume will be the focal point of "Hail to the Chief: American Presidential History in Word and Image," July 15-August 30. The exhibition will highlight presidential materials from the DeGolyer's collections, including the Doris A. and Lawrence H. Budner Theodore Roosevelt Collection and the Hervey A. Priddy Collection of American Presidential and Political Memorabilia.
SMU Homecoming and other signature events will keep the Year of the Library theme alive in the fall. Now in the planning stages are programs and exhibitions, as well as a CUL float in the Homecoming parade. Details will be released as they are finalized.
More information about the Year of the Library is available online at www.smu.edu/100/YearOfTheLibrary.
Gillian M. McCombs, Dean and Director, Central University Libraries, outlined a bold new vision for SMU's libraries at Dining with Decision Makers February 21. The prestigious annual gathering of the SMU Board of Trustees and student leaders was held at Fondren Library Center, which is slated for a massive renovation in response to evolving technology and user needs. While utilizing the existing footprint of the complex, the planned renovation will result in significant gains in user spaces, housing for special collections and public programming capabilities.