The completion of the first phase of a 45,000-square-foot expansion of the Walther Library at Concordia Theological Seminary, Fort Wayne, will give the institution more space for library services than it has had since the seminary moved in 1976 from Springfield, Ill.
When classes begin next fall, 15,000 square feet of the seminary’s historic library and 25,000 square feet of the new expansion will be available for use — exceeding the 30,000-square-foot library at the former campus.
“We are in the early stages of planning a celebration at commencement, May 20, 2011, for the completion of the first phase of the project,” said Rev. Robert V. Roethemeyer, director of Library and Information Services for the seminary. “This will be a wonderful opportunity for alumni and new graduates alike to see with their own eyes what has been dreamed about for so long.”
The plans to build the addition were announced in September 2008 by Seminary President Dr. Dean O. Wenthe, who also said at that time that $5,625,000 had already been committed to the estimated $8 million construction cost of the project. Detailed design work during the 2008-09 academic year culminated in a bid process during August 2009. A contract for the first phase of construction was signed and site work began in September 2009.
A Lutheran Church Extension Fund construction loan is being used to bridge the gap between gifts received to date and those pledged, as well as those still being sought to complete the funding for the first phase.
“As additional funds are raised, we will build out and furnish the remaining 20,000 square feet in the new library and complete the renovation and refurbishing of the old portion. An estimated $2.5 million is needed for those phases,” Roethemeyer said.
When completed, the seminary’s entire 175,000-volume collection will be under one roof, with enough additional space for another 50 years of acquisitions. When full shelf capacity is reached, a system of compact, movable shelving can be installed that will double the capacity and, at the current pace of acquisitions, enable the library to operate for another century before more space is required.
Currently, nearly 40,000 books are stored in other parts of the campus, requiring special forms to be filled out and library staff to retrieve them when students select them for use. The seminary’s rare book collection, consisting of an additional 6,000 volumes, is housed at a part of the campus with very limited accessibility. Some of these volumes date from Luther’s time and require special environmental care for preservation. The renovated lower level of the historic library will feature a rare book room with a reading room adjoining it — both rooms will be environmentally controlled.
The first part of the interior expansion includes a classroom that also will serve as a retreat center, as well as study space that doubles as break-out space; five study rooms, for groups of up to eight people; a larger enclosed room that will serve initially as a biblical workshop; lakeside study spaces arrayed with a mixture of table seating for writing and lounge seating for reading; shelving for the library’s circulated Christianity collection; a services area, with workstations for accessing the library catalog and the licensed journal and reference databases; a library technical services area, with space for book repair, gift-book processing and shipping, and receiving materials; and access to the lakeside outdoor plaza.
Another room — featuring all the curricular materials published by Concordia Publishing House for elementary and high-school religion classes, Sunday school, weekday school and confirmation classes — will benefit students at the seminary, as well as those at Fort Wayne-area churches and schools.
The addition, which overlooks the campus lake, was designed by MSKTD, a Fort Wayne architectural firm. Seminary officials believe it complements architect Eero Saarinen’s design of the Walther Library within an achievable budget, according to a seminary press release.
“The seminary library benefits not only current students, but pastors throughout the Synod,” the release continues. “Pastors from all over the country can also access the resources of the library from wherever they may be serving — borrowing books and making use of many of the online resources.”
“With all of its resources consolidated under one roof, Walther Library will serve The Lutheran Church–Missouri Synod, providing not only access to rare texts, scholarly material and digital resources, but also the space for servants of Jesus Christ to use, even to transform, those resources for our time, fulfilling the seminary’s mission to teach the faithful, reach the lost and care for all,” said Roethemeyer.
Posted Oct. 27, 2010