Posted by: G. Karen Merguerian
Happy Birthday, Snell Library! November 1, 1990 was the formal dedication ceremony for Snell Library. It’s hard to imagine NU without Snell Library, but for most of the history of the University, the library was a small affair housed in Dodge. Inadequate for the needs of the growing NU community, it was replaced thanks to an alliance including George and Lorraine Snell, University faculty, staff, students, and alumni who undertook to raise funds, and support from a U.S. Department of Defense grant. As part of the project, our first online catalog, “Nulis,” was also established around the same time.
In 1990, the things we take for granted today about Snell were inconceivable to most people. The concept of a catalog on a web site, to say nothing of a cell phone, was hard to imagine; so was the notion that most journal subscriptions would be online. There was no Digital Media Design Studio for students to create videos, nor a program to convert our printed archival records to digital form. Email delivery of journal articles from interlibrary loan… even a Cybercafé was hard to imagine in those “no-food-in-the-library” days.
One thing that hasn’t changed: the centrality of Snell Library. Architecture professor Peter Serenyi put it so perfectly:
“It is in its siting…that the library makes its most dramatic contribution to the campus as a whole…Opening up to the north and west, the Snell Library gathers the campus around itself, thus becoming not only the intellectual center of the University but its physical center as well.” (Tradition and Innovation, p. 33)
I think this is as true today as it has always been.
In the coming year, on this blog and elsewhere, we’ll be reflecting on our anniversary and on what the next 20 years hold in store for Snell Library. What do you think Snell Library will be 20 years from now?