Featured Library–Ruby E. Dare Library, Greenville College!
The drive down College Avenue in Greenville, IL, is filled with grand trees, blazing in full glory at this time of year. It makes the drive to Greenville College a gorgeous and welcoming sight, even on the most dreary of days, and the Ruby E. Dare Library is certainly a beautiful jewel at the center of the campus. The college was founded in 1892 and has featured a library from the beginning. It currently has 132,558 volumes of books and bound periodicals, 2,662 electronic books, 17,384 microforms, and 3,873 units of audiovisual materials. The library building has a total of 42,185 square feet, with approximately 12,000 square feet assigned to faculty and staff offices from other departments. The Library staff team includes 4.25 librarians, one paraprofessional, and 25 student workers.
It has come a long way from its beginnings in 1892 when it was a room in the Administrative building and staffed by volunteer faculty or students. The main library building was built in 1950. In 1929, a Latin and Greek faculty member by the name of Ruby E. Dare was appointed the librarian. Though she had no formal training at the time, she was determined to “do it right.” She went back to school for her Bachelors in Library Science and when the tide shifted towards the Masters in Library Science, she obtained that level as well. The current director of the library, Jane Hopkins, worked for her as a student worker, and returned to the College as a librarian in 1984. After Miss Dare passed away in 1969, the library was named in her honor as a lasting tribute to her dedication to advance the status of the library and the library profession at Greenville College.
The library has since undergone many changes, including renovation and expansion projects in 1970 and 1991. During the 1991 renovation, the library did not close or operate under reduced hours, even though the renovations were happening in the same space that the library was operating out of. There’s obvious pride in Jane Hopkins, Director of Library, voice when she recalls this.
Despite many challenges, including shrinking space due to another campus administrative building’s deterioration and the subsequent relocation of that building’s functions and staff, the library continues to thrive and offer innovative services. Currently, the library is working with other campus departments to launch a Web-based learning environment.
Another major project that the library is currently involved in is a massive weeding project in an effort to reclaim lost space. When the faculty from the deteriorating building moved into the library, the library was forced to give up a lot of study spaces, from group study rooms to individual study carrels. Through the weeding project, Hopkins hopes to regain a lot of that space as well as create new spaces that meet the needs of today’s learners, including creating spaces that allow students to work in groups using media to produce both written and visual final products.
Even with all of the challenges they are encountering, the Ruby E. Dare Library at Greenville College is a thriving and invigorating place to learn!