President Mistick welcomed a sizable crowd of students, faculty, staff, administrators, alumni, donors, trustees and members of the local community by thanking those in attendance.
Kathleen Murphy ’67, Library Director spoke next. Murphy assured that in the time the library has been closed for renovation and reconstruction, the library’s collection has continued to grow. Each summer, over 500 new print books add to the library’s offerings, and students can access thousands of new e-books through online databases.
“The library is a symbol of respect for tradition that is emblematic of our campus as a whole,” said Murphy.
Murphy urged on-lookers to sign a metal beam that will be used to support the new addition when the project is complete. The crowd also wrote the titles of their favorite books so that the community’s favorites will be well-represented in the collection when the project is complete.
Wilson College Government Association (WCGA) President Ghada Tafesh ’16 and President of the Senior Class Taylor Staudt ’15 each spoke about the prospect of gaining back a place to study, socialize and relax.
“We are excited to have a place that brings us all together,” said Tafesh.
Even though many upperclassmen have never been inside the John Stewart Memorial Library, Stoudt emphasized the promise of new memories for students that will follow her class’s departure this spring.
A group of students dressed in traditional garb reenacted the original groundbreaking of the library, which occurred in 1923. Cody Dunlap ’18 and Sam Mensah ’18 played the roles of Reverends Tyron Edwards and James Wightman, the two men who first imagined a seminary school for young women in 1867. Sonja Hess ’15 portrayed “Aunt Sally,” otherwise known as Sarah Wilson, the college’s first major donor.
Hess wore an authentic dress that was worn by a student at the original library dedication, as a symbol of the historical importance of the event, while the men’s suits were graciously lent free of charge by J and B Bridals, a local bridal shop.
Helen Carnell Eden Chaplain Rosie Magee offered a prayer, thanking “the author of all” for a place “where visionaries can come to learn wisdom in the future.”
The speakers and reenacters then dug the first ground, marking the official commencement of the project. The group placed a stone in the ground, inscribed with the names of the students, as it was done in 1923.
“Wilson College is a jewel for Franklin County,” said Pennsylvania State Senator Rich Alloway. “We are thrilled to see it grow and be successful.”
After closing in spring 2011, the library was temporarily relocated to Sarah’s Coffee House on the lower floor of Lenfest Commons.
To date, the college’s fundraising efforts raised more than $10.2 million so far for the library project. To complete construction, fundraisers must generate an additional $1.8 million. The projected completion date for the annex is fall 2015.