50 Years at Dunn: Celebrating the past, investing in the future

by ShelRandolph, contributor

Fifty years ago this month, Simpson students could be seen hauling over 50,000 items from then Carnegie Library (Heckert Hall) to a new home in Dunn Library. At the time, one high, solid, rather lengthy counter marked the entryway, all the study tables lined the windows, and a spiral staircase provided a spectacular accent to the space.

Since 1964, however, a lot of things have changed to emphasize a warmer, more accessible place for students to study. Cyd Dyer, librarian and archivist at Dunn Library, says many of the changes stemmed from students’ requests.

One of the long-standing complaints concerned the noise level. Dyer mentioned that due to these concerns, faculty spent one summer moving the shelves around in order to integrate study tables within the collection.

Students also requested that the entire library be carpeted and furniture be added. With the provided resources and funds, they carpeted sections of the building and purchased lounge chairs and couches.

“We also had students expressing interest in the cafe-style tables, so we went ahead and acquired some of those, and also put an electrical outlet next to each station,” Dyer explained.

Along with these student- led changes, other architectural changes have taken place since Dunn first opened its doors. These include modernizing the front counter for wheelchair accessibility, adding more offices, such as the Writing Center, Research Assistance Center and Hawley, and creating online printing sources.

“This is an important third space for students,” Dyer explained. “We want them to be comfortable and have access to a variety of resources.”

With that statement, Dyer went on to talk about the building renovations planned for the near future, especially regarding the college archival space located on the third floor of Dunn. Right now, the space is tight-quartered, leaving little to no room for students, faculty, and community members to work or even view the archives. It also has little temperature control.

The plan, as of now, is to revamp the room into more of a public work space, with better insulation and windows. Dyer also plans to utilize the money raised from the auction of the vintage card catalogs to digitize the archives.

“It would be wonderful to get all the yearbooks, the Beneath the Whispering Maples series (the college history), and the Simpsonian digitized so they are accessible online for anyone to look at,” Dyer said.

In addition to the college archives, renovations for all three floors of the library are being proposed as well.

One of the more notable ideas being thrown around is an altered entranceway that would allow students to enter and leave from the north and south rather than the west.

“Level one would be oriented to more social and group projects and the environment would get increasingly quieter the farther up you went (level-wise),” Dyer added.

Hawley, the Writing Center and the majority of offices would be located on level one. The second floor would house the computer lab as well as a different type of quiet study room. Dyer described this as a space where students could study in the same place as many other students but it would be a designated quiet area. Finally, the third floor would include the newly-designed college archival space and the addition of the quietest study cubicles.

“We’re really not 50 years old,” Dyer ended. “We like to say we are 50 years young— continually changing, rearranging, and making this a more convenient space for everyone who walks through those doors.”

Library faculty would like to extend a warm invitation to students, faculty, and members of the community to attend an open house Saturday, October 18, from 10-12. The open house will include a viewing of a short film titled Ace of Hearts and Noozreals, self-directed tours of the facilities, including a chance to explore the college archives before the remodel, and an opportunity to share memories of Dunn Library over some refreshments.