Kent Library Awarded MHC Grant for 75th Anniversary Celebration

Kent Library exteriorCAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., April 24, 2014The Missouri Humanities Council (MHC) has awarded a $7,168 grant to help underwrite events for the 75th anniversary celebration this year of Kent Library at Southeast Missouri State University.

The year-long celebration began last November and will include a speaker series featuring experts on southeast Missouri history. These events will be free and open to the public thanks to the grant from the MHC, the only state-wide agency in Missouri devoted exclusively to humanities education for citizens of all ages.  It has served as state affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities since 1971.

The first speaker will be Henry Sweets, a Mark Twain expert and executive director of the Mark Twain Boyhood Home & Museum in Hannibal, Mo., who will speak on campus and in the community Sept. 4-5. Sweets will discuss Twain and his connections to this area. Twain mentions the University’s Normal Building in his “Life on the Mississippi,” writing, “There was another college higher up on an airy summit—a bright new edifice, picturesquely and peculiarly towered and pinnacled—a sort of gigantic casters, with the cruets all complete.” Kent Library continues to provide access to the literature of Twain and others, and to texts, databases and other valuable sources of information for Southeast students and the community.

A second expert, Gay Walker, special collections librarian at Reed College in Portland, Ore., will provide the context and history of renowned stained glass artist G. Owen Bonawit’s stained glass panels on Oct. 8. The collection includes 33 illuminated printers’ marks and two smaller collections. One collection of six windows celebrates Missouri’s rich history, while another collection of six windows focuses on Twain and characters from his novels.

“Kent Library is proud to display and share with the community this beautiful collection which ties together the elements of printing history, literature, and Missouri history,” said Roxanne Dunn, Kent Library special collections and archives librarian and chair of the Kent Library 75th Anniversary Celebration Committee.

To culminate the year-long celebration, Special Collections and Archives plan to remount these valuable stained glass panels in the library for public view. This panel series was commissioned by the University to commemorate the completion of the newly-built library in 1939. The stained glass panes illuminated the windows of the Kent Library reading room from 1939 to 1968. In 1968, the panes were put into walnut frames and displayed on the mezzanine of the library until 2007, when they were removed for safety during library renovations. The remounting of the panes will help Kent return to the vision that came into fruition under the leadership of longtime librarian Sadie Kent.

The panes will be mounted on shelves along the glass wall of the Quiet Reading Room, to be rebuilt over the summer on the library’s third floor. A sneak peak of the remounted panels will be available Oct. 8 as part of Walker’s presentation. A sneak peak of the remounted panels will be available Oct. 8 as part of Walker’s presentation.

“The history that lies within the walls of Kent Library is a source of endless knowledge that we will continue to share,” Dunn said.

2013_LA_HistorySoutheast will celebrate the library’s 75 years of service to the campus with a birthday party from 6-9 p.m. Nov. 7. Participants may revel in the library’s rich history and enjoy tours of the Rare Book Room, special community speakers and the unveiling of the re-installed, famous G. Owen Bonawit stained glass windows. A cash bar will be available and food will also be served. Tickets are $40 or two for $75. To request an official invitation to the 75th Anniversary Celebration, please contact Roxanne Dunn at (573) 986-7446 or rdunn@semo.edu.

Today, Kent Library is a dynamic, evolving destination with a strong commitment to serving the needs of Southeast Missouri State University. The library has seen significant upgrades over the past eight years and is now a space where traditional library services and cutting edge technology have converged.

The main floor was extensively renovated and completed in spring 2006. Sadie’s Place, named in honor of Miss Kent, was established on the east side of the floor and features two group study rooms, browsing shelves for new book titles and New York Times best sellers, and a browsing collection of current magazines, journals and newspapers. Computer stations at individual tables are spread throughout the area for student research, and the library’s wireless environment allows tablets, laptops (personal or library loaned) to be used throughout.

Kent Library information commonsIn 2008, a new Information Commons was opened on the third floor of Kent Library. The commons features a spacious computer lab, reference help desk, reference consultation terminals, small group meeting rooms for team projects, and the Heather MacDonald Greene Multi-Media Center. The Multi-Media Center consists of a reception area with three separate group production rooms adjacent to this space. Each production room is equipped with a computer with Internet access, camera, scanner, editing equipment, Smartboards, table and chairs. The equipment allows students to produce their own multi-media group presentations while using video, produced by the students, and other technology.

For further information, please contact Program Directors Mary Christy at mchristy@semo.edu  or (573) 651-2744 or Dunn at rdunn@semo.edu or (573) 986-7446.  For more information about the grants programs of the Missouri Humanities Council, call (314) 781-9660 or 1 (800) 357-0909.