As Musselman Library turns 30, we have received wonderful stories about the 1981 transition from Schmucker Hall to the new facility, including the Book Walk, adapting to the spacious new digs, controversies surrounding the new building's location and design, and even love in the stacks.
But YOU tell the story best. Here are your comments.
"I Thought it was Genius of the College."
Cindy Holck McWilliams '84
On a recent visit to campus with our [teenagers] in tow, I kept referring to "the new library" and noticed the puzzled look on the bubbly, friendly, fresh-faced tour guide. She finally said, 'Excuse me, but we have only one library and it has been here FOREVER...why do you keep saying the 'new library'?" Feeling about 100 years old at that point, I took on the role of geezer (48 year olds are ancient on college campuses) and told the story of the big move from the old to the new library.
I remember being impressed with the show of students ready to spend the day passing pile after pile of books. As a freshman, it was great to see various factions of campus (Greeks, sport teams, freshmen to seniors, etc.) all coming together to get this job done. I thought it was genius of the College to harness this free labor, but mostly to give us a job that would always make us feel the "new library" was our library.
The new building was state of the art-there was even a computer room, imagine that! It was airy and bright-so different from the cramped, dark, stale old library we were used to. The lower floor was for more social studying, the students became more serious the higher you went, with the real egg heads hiding in the upper stacks (sometimes vying for study space with amorous couples).
My favorite memory was during finals when the stress level had reached the unbearable point. Some friends and I decided to blow off some steam. We...spent the evening sneaking through the stacks blowing bubbles at unsuspecting (and sometimes sleeping) students. We blew them through gaps in the shelves, around corners, and down the open stairway. Our good, clean fun elicited giggles, grumbles, and a whole lot of "what the...?"s!
"Most Meaningful 'Community Building' Event of My Life"
Ron Couchman '63, registrar emeritus
The Book Walk remains the most meaningful and satisfying "community building" event of my life. I remember clearly the wooden ramps leading out of second and third floor windows on the north side of the old library down which the boxes of books would slide. I remember carrying boxes of books to the new location with a wonderful mix of students, faculty, other staff people and even some local alumni. ...All left one building and entered another with a bit of the College's educational legacy. The atmosphere was exciting, friendly; we were participating in an important and meaningful event in the life of Gettysburg College. Amazingly, the library was open for business that same evening.
"They're Building a Library in a Lake?"
Claudia Derse-Anthony '82
'We're coming, we're coming, our brave little band - on the right side of Stine Lake we do take our stand. We won't dare to cross it because we do think that the people who do so are likely to sink!' - sung to the tune of the Temperance Union song, courtesy of my freshman roommate.
They're building a library in a lake??? The books will get moldy!
Look at the new SHIP in the middle of campus - at least it looks like it belongs on a lake!
My sorority (Alpha Delta Pi) joined the crew of students schlepping cartons of books... 'we're paying tuition for this?' 'Slave labor.' It gave us a chance to mix with groups we didn't usually mix with - as we passed each other on our multiple trips back and forth across the quad...
Hollywood Squares was a popular game: walking along the south side of Mussleman Library at night - we'd look to see who was in the lit up windows!
'Meet me on the steps of the library' - replaced 'meet me on the steps of Plank'.
I remember how wonderful the new library was. It was a very welcoming place to study or do homework especially when I needed to get away from the distractions of my apartment and roommates.
[A] large number of students boycotted helping with the library move. The objection was not to a greatly needed new library... [but] to putting any building in "Stine Lake," especially such a modern looking monstrosity, in the middle of the historic campus. There were definitely two sides to the story here.
- Pam Sweeting Kuczawa '82
"Historic Event in the Life of Gettysburg College"
Jean S. LeGros '73, assoc. vice president for alumni/parent relations emerita
I was thrilled to witness the planning, building, move-in and dedication of Musselman Library. Many questioned the location and architecture of the new building, but I always liked the interesting lines of the new building and its central position on campus.
Participating in move-in day ...was an unforgettable experience. Each of us who passed books that day knew we were taking part in a historic event in the life of Gettysburg College.
The first time I entered Musselman Library, I distinctly remember experiencing a sense of awe as I climbed the spiral staircase. And there was much more room for books and periodicals. And to think that the building opened less than two years after ground was broken! I also remember a sense of relief that one important thing hadn't changed in the move from one library to another: the wonderful staff was still there to greet and assist [those] who walked through the doors.
I also clearly remember the dedication of Musselman Library on a beautiful autumn day in 1981. The dedication took place on the outside steps and patio, and we were honored to have Vartan Gregorian, then president of the New York Public Library, as speaker.
Joe Guty '81
I do remember the move to the new library. In my diary for that day, I noted, simply, "a.m. Library Move." That afternoon I ran to Pennsylvania Monument—about seven miles round trip.
I recall that we had many volunteers. I think for some seniors there were somewhat mixed feelings in that our class was on the way out and would not be able to utilize the new library. However, Musselman was impressive and we were still able to enjoy it—albeit for a short time.
Karl Mattson, Dean of the Chapel emeritus
- Elaine (Hesser) Giuliano '83
It was one of those rare days when the whole campus came together and we really felt like a family.
- Susan Aube (Petzold) '84
"An Example of How you can Accomplish the Impossible"
Kathleen Stewart '82
There was a lot of controversy about building that new library on our playing field -- Stine Lake. We called the field Stine Lake because it used to flood in the spring and people would play mud Frisbee, freeze in the winter, and be beautiful in the warm days of May and September where we would have picnics and play ultimate Frisbee. I think that having the entire school carry books across that field helped to unite the community into accepting the new library and embracing it. All the sororities and fraternities were out in their T-shirts. The faculty had their own T-shirts; every other group on campus had theirs. It was a party, with drinks and snacks from Servomation, and it did not seem like work.
I admire the librarians for their incredible organization skills of boxing up books and labeling them with the correct location in the new library. I teach leadership skills in my current job and I still use this experience as an example of how you can accomplish the impossible when everyone works together. You can also overcome adversity to change by involving everyone in the change process.
The new library became a place of fun and a place to meet members of the opposite sex because of its large first floor lobby. We soon forgot about missing Stine Lake; we had a nice new clean library to use as the hub of campus life...an ingenious place to put the library now that I look back on it from the planner/administrative side.
Kathleen Toal '81
I was a senior when "Charlie's Barn" (named after our then-president Charles Glassick and the design of the structure with the silo staircase) was erected, much to the disappointment of many of the students. We liked the open space that was to be occupied by the new library and had spent many of our best moments playing Frisbee, enjoying cook outs and even sliding through the muddy water of "Stine Lake" when it would flood... We did not see the new building as a step toward improving the campus.
The day that we moved the books everyone was very co-operative and orderly. It was amazing to see how well organized the whole event was. The students filed into Schmucker, picked up a box labeled with the new location, then carried the box across the quad to Charlie's Barn. There were librarians and student volunteers directing us as we arrived. ...Other volunteers loaded the books onto the shelves almost as quickly as we delivered them. It was impressively efficient.
Ken Juricic 82'
I remember we had a great "book move concert" to celebrate the move featuring NRBQ [the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet]!!
I did lug many cartons of books from Schmucker to the new library. I remember classes being cancelled to encourage the entire campus community to participate. Some folks were in Schmucker loading books into cartons. There was a chute out the North side of the building and once the cartons were loaded they would come sliding down the chute and those of us lugging books would grab a carton and walk it over to Musselman. Once in Mussleman we were directed where to take those particular call numbers (it always seemed as if mine ended up on the third floor meaning a few flights of stairs). I think there were refreshments provided which eventually led to many people standing around socializing and not doing much book hauling.
I arrived the fall semester after the protests over the choosing of the site for the library. It was a done deal and construction had begun. Once the building was completed and people saw what a great space it was the grumbling over the site selection dissipated. Although the new library was beautiful, those of us in Chemistry didn't spend much time there since we had the chemistry collection in Breidenbaugh.