MacMillan Law Library doubles space for school's collections

During the construction of the Hugh F. MacMillan Law Library, Hugh F. MacMillan '34L occupied an office in Gambrell Hall overlooking the site and personally kept an eye on the progress of the building. MacMillan, who donated $2.3 million toward the library's cost, visited the site often, talking with faculty, staff and students throughout the process.

"He had a great time," said Dean Howard Hunter. "I've never seen anyone gain more pleasure from giving. That was wonderful to see." As the library opened last fall, however, MacMillan died Sept. 4 from complications from a stroke. He was 85.

His legacy lives on, however, as law students enjoy the 70,000-square-foot facility that bears his name. According to law library director Robin Mills, the facility roughly doubles the space available for the library's collection. Seating has increased from 325 to about 450, which includes a combination of 135 oversized study carrels, extra large tables and conveniently located lounge areas so that students can spread out with their legal materials. The study carrels are all wired for access to the campus Ethernet network, as are 20 workstations in the library's open computer lab. The building also has five conference rooms, providing a perfect meeting spot for student study groups, and an electronic classroom with state-of-the-art equipment for instruction in using legal research databases, other online resources and the Internet.

The new library has been constructed to provide as much flexibility as possible in building and technology design to allow the library to respond to user needs in the years to come. "In planning the building we focused on people's needs," said Mills. The reference desk occupies a prominent place at the library's entrance "so that people coming in can get help right away, not have to hunt down a reference librarian."

Although the new library has enough space to double the library's volumes, that process probably will be gradual, according to Mills. "The watchword for libraries today is `access,' not `ownership.' That's why we're emphasizing technology, the ability to get to and use these materials, even if they're not housed in the building."

-- Nancy M. Spitler