For about two years, Benedictine College has been planning much-needed renovations to its current library.
The project was announced in 2019 but was brought to a grinding halt due to the restrictions of COVID. With things returning to normal, the College can now look toward moving forward again and searching for donors.
The current library, completed in 1968, has been faced with interior problems that range from leaks in the ceiling threatening the collection of irreplaceable, rare books to the inaccessibility of the bathrooms to students in wheelchairs.
Kimberly Shankman, Dean of the College, realizes the importance of these issues and is determined to fix them.
“[These problems] aren’t best practice for libraries,” Shankman said. “It’s not a good way to be stewards of your resources which is an important Benedictine value. So, something needs to be done.”
Although the College would love to put a timeline on this project, there needs to be a significant portion of money funneled in by donors to begin the process of reshaping a core part of Benedictine’s campus.
Stephen Gromatzky, director of the library, acknowledges the fact that, although the College would love to put a timeline on this project, there needs to be a significant amount of money funneled in by donors to begin the process of reshaping a core part of Benedictine’s campus.
“We’re looking forward to it,” Gromatzky said, “but it is a big project, and we don’t know how long it will take.”
In addition to the essential fixes needed within, the College plans to renovate the outside in an effort to create a “Center for Constitutional Liberty” which takes some elements of Independence Hall and creates a place where pre-college age students can come to learn about the American government.
Dean Shankman sees the benefits of renovating the library including the preservation of the expansive collection of books the library has–which falls around 250,000–and accessibility to all students, but also creating an environment that fits with the values of the College.
“Whatever happens, we need a more inviting, more accessible, more conducive space to academic excellence,” Shankman said. “We really just do feel the need to make the library more reflective of being on the campus of one of the great Catholic colleges in America.”