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Hesburgh Library basement dedicated

Matthew Smedberg | Friday, September 19, 2003

University leaders met Thursday afternoon in the basement of the Hesburgh Library for the dedication of the renovated lower level, named for University benefactor William Carey.The lower level, which has been open for student use since the beginning of the academic year, is the new home of the library’s microfilm collection and houses sections of the Mathematics and General Works sections. In addition, there is a large study area with couches and chairs immediately next to the stairs and elevators.The basement now houses more than 17 miles of movable shelves, which is a key element in the library’s renovation plan. The expansive shelving will increase the capacity the library can hold and allow for greater ease when retrieving books. The current count at Hesburgh Library stands at 3,000,000 volumes, with additional volumes overflowing into department libraries such as the Mathematics Library in Hayes-Healy Center and the Engineering Library in Fitzpatrick Hall.When Hesburgh Library was originally built between 1962 and 1964, then-president Father Theodore Hesburgh, intended for it to be a key step in making Notre Dame a nationally renowned university and wanted to see the capacity increase tenfold. Though the library originally had 300,000 volumes, donations from I.A. O’Shaughnessy and the Ford Foundation, among others, helped the library increase its capacity. Though Hesburgh predicted he would live to see the library filled to its capacity and many doubted him, the recent renovations fulfilled his prediction.”This library has made enormous changes in the intellectual character of this University,” Hesburgh said. “A library, a really first-rate library, is the heart of a University, and I don’t know any university with a better heart center than ours.” The library houses collections of medieval books and works on philosophy and theology that are not available anywhere else in the world.