Though the Olin and Chalmers Libraries of yesteryear are gone, President Sean Decatur announced on Tuesday that a piece of them will live on: Kenyon’s new library will also bear the Chalmers name.
The name of the library was announced at a “topping-out” ceremony, during which Smoot Construction workers placed a purple beam, signed by members of the Kenyon community, atop the library construction site.
“By adding our names to the beam, we mark for posterity our shared value and commitment to this project moving forward,” Decatur said in a speech at the ceremony.
Decatur also announced that the construction of the library will be complete at the end of 2020, with an opening scheduled for 2021’s spring semester. The library, previously referred to as Kenyon Commons, was initially scheduled to open in July 2020. Winter weather and excavation issues delayed the project at its onset.
The original Chalmers Memorial Library, named for Kenyon’s 13th president Gordon Keith Chalmers, opened in 1962. The new library will also commemorate his wife, Roberta Teale Swartz Chalmers H’60, who was a poet, teacher and co-founder of the Kenyon Review. She also served as an advisor to John Crowe Ransom, the Review’s first editor.
“i’m very pleased by the new name, and especially pleased at the addition of Roberta Chalmers’s name to it,” said College Historian and Keeper of Kenyoniana Thomas Stamp ’73. “She was also a really important figure in Kenyon’s history—especially in the history of the Kenyon Review—and she rarely gets credit for it. So I think it’s a very good thing, and especially meaningful this year, with the celebration of 50 years of coeducation and of women at Kenyon.”
Stamp and Decatur both praised the new library’s architecture. “It’s probably going to look like it belongs better than Olin did,” Stamp said. Decatur said that the building would “enhance the striking architecture of Middle Path and South Campus that provides symbolic continuity between past, present and future.”
Decatur recognized several guests in attendance at the ceremony, including Village Mayor Kachen Kimmell and representatives from the Board of Trustees, Smoot Construction and architecture firm Gund Partnerships. He also credited a list of patrons, including the anonymous $75 million donor, for their support of the library and the larger West Quadrangle project.
Construction on the West Quad, which will feature the Chalmers library, a new social sciences building and an admissions center, is scheduled to continue through 2021.
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