Transforming Oxford’s Library into a Center of Excellence

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Friends of the library: Library director Kitty McNeill, fund-raising leader Hugh Tarbutton Jr., Dean Stephen Bowen, and the late Fran Elizer (seated) have been champions of a new learning and research facility at Oxford.

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Financial support from alumni and friends—along with matching funds from an anonymous foundation—is transforming the Oxford College library into a center of academic excellence, research, and learning. Emory University has provided half of the $10.5 million required to build the new facility. Of the remaining amount, more than $3 million has been raised from alumni contributions and from a generous estate gift. The foundation will grant $500,000 if Oxford’s alumni and friends donate the rest.

Once complete, the Oxford Library and Academic Commons will offer a combination of traditional resources, new technology, and well-designed spaces to build community, increase communication, and inspire achievement. Oxford’s leaders hope to break ground in May 2012.

“A great strength of an Oxford education is the experience of community, and the new Oxford Library and Academic Commons will be the heart of that experience,” says Dean Stephen Bowen.

Among the alumni supporting the project are Hugh Tarbutton Jr. 84OX and his father, 2008 Emory Medalist Hugh Tarbutton 52OX 55B. Both are members of the Oxford Board of Counselors; the younger Tarbutton leads the library’s fund-raising committee. Both have made gifts in honor of Fran Elizer, a longtime Oxford librarian who passed away in December 2011. She and her late husband, Marshall Elizer—who was a mathematics professor, director of student affairs, and business manager—were central to the Oxford community.

The current library was completed in 1970, and a new Library and Academic Commons has been part of Oxford’s long-range strategic plan for many years, says Associate Dean and Oxford librarian Kitty McNeill.

“While the role of libraries as centers of information is constant, the way their mission is fulfilled has drastically changed in the last decade,” she says. “Print media are eclipsed by digital and online sources. Computers and other digital hardware are standard library equipment. Spaces for collaborative study and librarian-led instruction in information methods and research are essential.”

The new facility will include all of those resources, along with a cafe, exhibit gallery, atrium, and space for tutoring. Much of the exterior will be glass, maximizing the view and natural light during the day and showcasing the building’s activities at night. Special collections will be housed in a carefully controlled environment designed to support research.

To support the new library, call Kevin Smyrl at 770.784.4637, email kevin.smyrl@emory.edu, or visit our secure online giving page at emory.edu/give.

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