A Place for Learning and Living: The Gustavus Library

Posted on April 11th, 2011 by

Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library is one of the busiest places on the campus of Gustavus Adolphus College. Students use the space for many purposes including group meetings, classes, projects, quiet and noisy studying, research, casual dating, and socializing. In part, we aim to make the library a common space where students feel welcome, but our primary goal is the promotion of learning. This has been a constant since at least the 1950s. We strive to make changes that address student concerns so that the library remains, as one faculty member from the music department stated, “the biggest classroom on campus” and, in my opinion, the most enjoyable.
A century ago students lacked the robust and vibrant learning library of today. In those days, the facility was crammed onto the 2nd floor of Old Main, and students only had access to the following resources.

While most readers of this blog know of no other Gustavus library, aside from the one previously mentioned, there were several earlier facilities where learning and student centeredness were not always the primary goals because of either philosophy or space limitations. The following is a reverse chronology of libraries on our current campus.
2nd Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, 1972-ongoing. Construction costs totaled $2.8 million. The walkway connecting the library to the Student Union was built during 1981.

1st Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library, 1948-1972. When built, the facility had capacity for slightly more than 100,000 volumes. Study spaces included amazing views of St. Peter and the Minnesota River Valley. Even though the facility seemed impressive, planners failed to anticipate one monumental problem. It opened during a period of massive collection development when both book and periodical collections grew at previously unprecedented rates. In a period of less than 25 years, the building became obsolete. Overcrowding necessitated the building of the 2nd Folke Bernadotte Memorial Library. Today, the building is named the A.H. Anderson Social Science Center and seems rather odd since most of the offices and classrooms are in spaces created for the storage of books and journals.

Commerce Hall, 1889-1897 and 1920-1948. This building housed the school’s commerce department and was located just south of Old Main. It was built in 1887 and demolished circa 1960. Shortly after being erected, plans were developed for an expansion to the building’s rear for the inclusion of a library. The addition was built and the library moved into the space, but overcrowding remained a problem.

Old Main, 1876-1889 and 1897-1920. The library was located on the 2nd floor during the 1897-1920 period.

To see additional pictures of past library facilities, please view the following link – http://tinyurl.com/5tsp6kb.
 

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