When he was a student at the University, Stephen Clark said he spent endless hours at libraries on campus. Little did he know that one day a library would be built in his name.
On Friday afternoon, members of the University community gathered on the second floor of the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library to celebrate the grand opening of the Stephen S. Clark Library for Maps, Government Information and Data Services, which will provide access to 370,000 maps and 10,000 atlases.
The new maps library is a collaboration between the University’s map collection, the Government Information Center and the Spatial and Numeric Data Services. The library is open to the public and provides full access to maps, data software and librarian assistance.
Jennifer Green, manager of the new library, said the program will aid in research initiatives.
“The ability to join these resources together in a helpful format for people to use for research and inquiry is really amazing,” Green said.
The new library features presentation and event spaces with dual projectors, screens, a whiteboard and seating for more than 30 students. It also includes nine workstations with software for spatial and statistical analysis, data visualization and a high-quality scanner.
“The librarians and resources help the process from start to finish,” Green said. “People can find the data they need, can get information for the way they are collecting data and can create an end point, with data computation and presentation.”
The library also has a maps and materials viewing bar that spans the length of the library. Green said the bar provides increased space for students to conduct research and has monitors that allow for simultaneous access to maps, data and statistical software.
“Where the maps were previously located, on the eighth floor of the Hatcher Library, the maps were difficult to access and the viewing area was cramped,” Green said. “Now with the assistance of a librarian, several maps can be taken out and viewed at once with the large space on the table.”
The library’s namesake, Stephen S. Clark — a 1974 alum of the College of Engineering and 1976 graduate of the Ross School of Business — said he donated to the library because he valued the libraries during his time at the University.
“I needed a quiet refuge to study (in college) so that is how I discovered the libraries,” said Clark, who is now president of Dwyer Instruments, Inc. “They saved my college career.”
Margaret McKinley, director of development for University Libraries, worked with Clark in deciding how to utilize his past contributions to the library system, which included providing funding for increased technological resources in many of the libraries on campus.
“I toured the libraries with Stephen to show him all the innovations his contributions have made,” McKinley said. “After several visits, he expressed that he was thinking about funding a new library so we worked on ideas and decided on combining the three units.”
Clark said he was impressed by the libraries’ ability to adapt to technological advances, particularly through the Google Books Library Project — a collaboration with universities around the nation to digitize thousands of books and make them accessible online — and wanted to help facilitate growth of its programs.
“I liked how the library was adapting to change, rather than hiding from it,” Clark said. “The library was embracing the change, starting with the Google Books Project. I liked the idea of linking books and sharing on the Internet — that’s how I knew the libraries would be around for a while and would be a good use of my funds.”