Lilly Library Celebrates 50th Anniversary as One of America's Top College Libraries
October 24, 2012
For nearly a half-century, Lilly Library has facilitated learning and teaching, new technology, socializing and more on Earlham’s campus.
Highlights of the celebration include brief talks by retired library director Tom Kirk ’65 and curator of Quaker collections and Director of Special Collections Tom Hamm, an a capella performance, door prizes including a Nook reader, and a 1960s dance party. Refreshments also will be available. Those who attend the celebration will have the opportunity to test and vote on new chairs and a new bookplate.
While the library’s first 50 years proved innovative in defining the role of academic libraries, the new era has Lilly looking more toward digital and electronic sources.
“I am really excited about the future of Lilly Library,” says Academic Outreach Librarian Kate Blinn. “In the next five to 10 years Lilly will look very different. From the ideas being discussed, I envision there will be more collaborative and working spaces. We will continue to expand the use of the library space to accommodate more than just books.”
“There’s a high probability that we will leverage the potential of e-books to the fullest extent possible and consequently there will be fewer print books,” says Library Director Neal Baker. “Library facilities continue to be important to students as contemplative spaces, gathering spaces for shared academic work, maker spaces for using joint technology, and social spaces.”
Lilly Library’s cornerstone was placed in October 1962, and the building was completed in 1963. Students helped carry books across campus from the old library at Tyler Hall into the new building. Designed to provide a comfortable and inviting space to study and read, Lilly features large windows that flood the interior with natural light. The library’s name honors Eli Lilly and J.K. Lilly. A major renovation and addition occurred in 1992 that included spaces for the Arthur S. and Kathleen Postle Friends Collection and Archives and the Hugh and Sara Ronald Gallery.
Once completed, Lilly Library quickly gained national attention as Evan Farber, College Librarian from 1962-1994, became a prominent proponent for college librarianship and bibliographic instruction. Farber argued that the proper measurement of a library’s success was its effectiveness to help students learn and faculty to teach. Farber served as a member of or chaired numerous committees for the American Library Association and the Association of College and Research Libraries, which named him Academic/Research Librarian of the Year in 1980.
Picking up where Farber left off, Kirk served as science librarian from 1965-1979 and then rejoined the College in 1994 as College Librarian, a position that was later expanded to Library Director and Coordinator of Information Services. Kirk was named ACRL Academic/Research Librarian of the Year in 2004 and retired in 2009.
A celebration to honor Lilly’s 50th birthday was held on Thurs., Oct. 25, at the library.
Photos courtesy of the Earlham College Archives.