April 26, 2019
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Recently, Denison’s William Howard Doane Library received a gift of $7.5 million from Sue Douthit O’Connell, a member of the class of 1967 and her husband Bob. A major portion of this gift, $5.7 million, will be dedicated to renovations to update multiple different areas of the facility.

The gift is in support of the Unlocking Potential: Investing in Denison comprehension campaign, along with the new narrative nonfiction writing academic program on campus.

In response to this generous gift, Denison University President Adam Weinberg reflected on the important role of libraries in the lives of college students, and how these improvements will benefit the Denison community. “Libraries, in combination with the classroom, are foundational elements of a college campus. Sue’s magnificent gift to Denison will boost our students’ academic achievements to even greater heights by enhancing their study and research environment in our beautiful and architecturally significant library. This is a transformational gift that will add functionality and aesthetics to the library, augment the study environment for our students, and beautify our campus. We are honored by and grateful for Sue’s generosity,” he said.

With the majority of the gift being geared towards renovations, students can expect to see changes to both the 1936 and 1958 sections of the William Howard Doane Library. The entrance of the library will be reinstated, along with the addition of a new lobby and reception space.

The 1936 area of the library includes the President’s Room, Gallery, and third floor reading room. These will all be renovated, and renamed as Douthit Hall. The 1958 section renovations include the basement, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th floors, along with the government document sections. A portion of the renovations will initiate this summer, while the rest will commence over the course of summer 2019.

Those who spend their time working in the library are excited about all the benefits that will follow this generous donation to the college. BethAnn Zambella, the director of libraries at Denison, discussed how important the library is to this campus.

“The library is the intellectual hub of the campus, both in real and virtual terms. At Denison, we are also lucky to be a physical nexus on campus—we average over 1500 visitors a day during the school year,” she said. “This opportunity to extend the life of the building is likewise an occasion to improve the student experience and positively impact the faculty, staff and alums who cross our threshold. We can’t thank Sue enough for her interest in restoring the grandeur of the building while simultaneously addressing the needs and expectations of 21st-century scholars.”

The narrative nonfiction academic program that has recently appeared at Denison offers a unique opportunity of study to students. It combines storytelling to literary attention, along with in depth and fact-based research. This program will help students sharpen writing skills that can be applied to numerous audiences, across many different forms of media.

Thanks so this generous gift Denison’s community will see nothing but further improvements to its campus. With these additions to the library, students will be able to take advantage of a new, up to date space that will encourage productivity and success.   

Brooke Holland

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