Library expansion plans presented

Almost exactly five years after Dartmouth President James O. Freedman announced in 1992 that the college would construct a new library thanks to a $30-million gift - the largest gift in the college's history - plans for that library are nearly complete, and construction will begin in the summer of 1998.

In the year 2000 the new Berry Library should be complete, and by 2002 the Baker Library renovation will be finished, making the Dartmouth College Library more than ever the center of campus life. Within that library and computing complex will be:

As a companion facility to the 70-year-old Baker Library, the Berry Library will allow the college to expand its presently cramped library collections, better link its computing services and library services, make the library more a crossroads of campus life and better serve its users.

Designed by architects Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates of Philadelphia, in association with the Boston firm of Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott, the Berry Library plans call for a five-story building, encompassing 125,000 square feet. Baker Library, whose neo-Georgian facade has anchored the Dartmouth Green since its completion in 1928, will also be renovated as part of the project.

Once construction of Berry and renovation of Baker are complete, the two buildings will form a crossroads for the Dartmouth campus that provides the latest in information resources and technology while strengthening the college's traditional close sense of community.

The completed project will unite traditional library functions and expanded book stack spaces with electronic computing facilities including a unified reference and government documents center, a media center, state-of-the-art multimedia teaching facilities, public computer work stations, and parts of the college's Computing Services department including Academic Computing, Instructional Services and Technical Services. Other facilities will include new serials and newspaper reading rooms, a new map room, a variety of spaces for reading and study, a 24-hour cafe/study area, and improved staff work spaces.

The Berry and Baker Gifts

Berry Library is named for John W. Berry '44 of Dayton, Ohio, and his family, whose combined gift of $27 million to the library project was announced in November 1992. John Berry made a commitment of $25 million to the project, the largest individual donation in the college's history. His son George Berry '66 and the Loren M. Berry Foundation, established by John Berry's father, each committed an additional $1 million. 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. The combined Berry and Baker gifts of $30 million are the largest benefactions to Dartmouth in its 228-year history.

The Planning Process

Planning for Berry Library began in October 1993, when President Freedman appointed a 15-member Task Force on the Library of the 21st Century and charged the group to think creatively about Dartmouth's library facilities of the future, particularly with regard to the emerging frontiers of information technology.

Drawn from all segments of the campus community and chaired by William C. Scott, Humanities Distinguished Research Professor and Dartmouth Professor of Classics, the task force issued its report in May 1995. The report called for a flexible facility, reinforcing Dartmouth's traditional "village culture" of close personal interaction and personalized services while providing an intellectual center capable of growing and adapting to the information needs of the new millennium.

In particular, the report emphasized the "crossroads" nature of the Berry Library project: both physically, in its location on a major east-west path of the campus, and intellectually, at the heart of all academic disciplines on campus. The report called for a combination of information resources, professional services, informal reading spaces, group study areas, a "coffee house," and other facilities that would allow the library to continue Dartmouth's tradition of services carefully tailored to suit individual needs.

Following the task force report, an 18-member Library Building Committee was appointed to turn the concepts presented by the task force into detailed recommendations. Chaired by John G. Crane, director of library administrative services, the committee identified and described services and facilities that are essential for the expanded library.

Between them, the two committees met with a range of faculty, staff members and students and visited nearly a dozen academic libraries around the country.

The Architectural Team

In the past 33 years of practice, Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates has won an international reputation as one of the world's leading architectural design and planning firms. Through influential work in these disciplines as well as in decorative arts and theoretical writing, the firm-under the leadership of Robert Venturi and Denise Scott Brown-has helped transform contemporary architecture and is regarded as a driving force in the shaping of late twentieth-century design.

The firm's current projects include a student center at Princeton University; laboratory buildings at UCLA and the University of Pennsylvania; and the campus plan and creation of the Rauner Special Collections Library at Dartmouth, as well as the Baker-Berry Project.

Recently completed projects include libraries for Bard College and the University of Pennsylvania, student centers for Harvard University and the University of Delaware, and laboratory buildings at Dartmouth and the Thayer School of Engineering, Penn, Princeton and UCLA. Venturi, Scott Brown and Associates has also designed several museums such as the Houston Children's Museum, the Sainsbury Wing of the National Gallery in London, the Museum of Contemporary Art, San Diego in La Jolla, California and the Seattle Art Museum.

The firm of Shepley Bulfinch Richardson and Abbott traces its heritage to the great Boston architect Henry Hobson Richardson. One of Boston's oldest architectural firms, it has a long history of designing buildings for university settings and has lately distinguished itself as an outstanding designer of libraries through the leadership of Geoffrey Freeman (whose recent work can be seen at Yale University's Sterling Library, Columbia University's Butler Library, the University of Southern California's Levy Library and Emory University's Woodruff Library).

This page was last updated on 11/05/97.