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>  News Releases >   2000 >   September

Berry Library opens its doors Sept. 19

Posted 09/15/00

The first phase in the creation of a new library complex at the center of the Dartmouth campus will come to fruition on Tuesday, September 19 with the opening of the new Berry Library.

That day the library will have an open house, "Berry 2K: Phase One Is Done" from 12:30 p.m. to 3 p.m., which will include tours and a raffle with prizes including an iMac computer. Guided tours of the new facility will depart from the west entrance (North Main Street side) of Baker Library on a periodic basis as sufficient numbers of people arrive to form groups.

The open house is the concluding event of a "day of community" at Dartmouth that will include the annual Convocation that morning, followed by the third annual Community Cookout.

Completion of Berry marks the first step in a process that will include renovation of Baker Library, which opened in 1928, and construction of Carson Hall, a new home for Dartmouth's Department of History, on the west side of Berry. Completion of the entire project is planned for the spring of 2002. Once completed, Baker-Berry Library will allow the college to nearly double its library collections, better link its computing services and library services, make the library more a crossroads of campus life and better serve its users.

"The opening of Berry Library is a very important moment in the history of Dartmouth and its library system," said John Crane, Chair of the Berry Library Building Committee and Director of Administrative Services for the Dartmouth College Library. "Information technology and library services have changed dramatically during recent decades and this new building represents Dartmouth's vision of a library for the 21st century. The extraordinary generosity of Dartmouth's benefactors have allowed us to design and build a wholly new kind of library building that integrates a wide range of curricular and research services previously divided among several campus buildings and organizations."

"The new Baker-Berry Library is an 'information center,' uniting print and digital, tangible and intangible, librarians and "computarians," said Larry Levine, Dartmouth's Director of Computing. "It is a library in objects and a library 'on the screen,' and is specifically positioned to take faculty, students, and staff rapidly forward into the use of information technologies, both new and old, in a way that we think hasn't been offered before this strongly in higher education, and in a way purposefully positioned to evolve."

The library is named for the late John W. Berry '44, whose 1992 gift of $25 million - the largest individual gift in Dartmouth's history - led a combined gift from several sources that ultimately totaled $37 million for a new library at Dartmouth. In 1996 Berry made an additional gift of $2.5 million to the library project. Berry's son George Berry '66 and the Loren M. Berry Foundation, established by John Berry's father, committed $1 million each to the Berry Library project in 1992. George F. Baker III of New York City, great-grandson of George F. Baker, whose 1926 gift made possible the construction of Baker Library, also contributed $3 million towards the project in 1992, and then increased that commitment by $2.5 million in 1996 and $2 million in 1998. These principal gifts, combined with gifts from many other donors, will fund the $55.5 million project to construct Berry Library and to renovate Baker Library.

Berry Library has been under construction since June 1998. Besides more than two years of construction work, the Berry portion of the project involved a "million-book march" in which most of the current holdings of Baker Library were moved either into Berry or to new locations within Baker so that renovation of Baker could begin. The relocation process involved crews of Dartmouth students, Library staff members and temporary help from the Upper Valley, under the direction of the firm Library Relocation Consultants. The move went on for 10 hours a day, seven days a week, for 27 days.

Berry is a six-story structure, including one story below ground, that encompasses 121,000 gross square feet and is designed for maximum flexibility internally to accommodate the ever-changing high technology that is an ever-growing vehicle for delivery of the information and services libraries provide.

The facility was designed by architects Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates of Philadelphia, in association with the Boston firm of Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott. Barr & Barr Inc. Builders of Boston was the construction manager.

Among the more obvious architectural features of the interior are the new Novack Cafe at the east end of the ground level, which will provide snacks and beverages on the north side of campus 24 hours a day; and a "grand stairway" leading from the north-side entryway on the ground level up to a library and computing service hub on Level One, comprising Academic Computing, Library Reference Services and Library Circulation Services. The many other interior features of Berry include public computer work stations, the Jones Media Center, the Evans Map Room and state-of-the-art multimedia teaching facilities.

Outside, the contemporary facade of Berry is red brick to match Baker, with small bands of contrasting limestone. The exterior has narrow ends and a set-back roof line, and a gentle bend near the point where Berry and Carson will meet. The building also has a continuous pedestrian arcade outside the north end of the ground floor that allows passersby to look inside whether they enter or not.

Rows of multi-paned windows on Berry's exterior together with the arcade's larger civic-scale screen wall create an architectural rhythm across the building. The design draws on New England loft buildings that are familiar in classic villages and towns throughout the region. Its repeating rows of windows in masonry walls also echo the exterior style of Dartmouth Hall as well as other New England college buildings.

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