Speaking Out

Credit Where Credit Is Due

Your July 18 story about the renovation and refurbishing of the Van Pelt-Dietrich Library Center is cause for celebration. Credit must go to the Libraries Director, Paul H. Mosher and his team for the master plan as spelled out in the story.

In today's competitive world, where the tools and techniques for the gathering and storage of information are constantly changing, libraries are hard-pressed to keep up-to-date. Dr. Mosher paints an attractive picture as he describes plans to improve the building's facilities and make them more user-friendly. He does a disservice, however, to one of his predecessors, Richard DeGennaro, in failing to identify past improvements.

By referring to the building as "crummy," Dr. Mosher casts aspersions on the stewardship's prior to his arrival on board. It was during DeGennaro's tenure that important improvements, although necessarily piecemeal, were accomplished.

To cite one example, lounges were created where students could read and work with some degree of privacy. On Van Pelt's 5th Floor the Class of 1937 Lounge provides a comfortable and attractive retreat. Thanks to the dedicated support of Craig Sweeten, C'37, and his fellow alumni, the Class of '37 Lounge periodically expanded as it diversified its facilities and decor. Students, in ever larger number, continue to discover and enjoy its agreeable environment.

Another and different kind of space improved during DeGennaro's regime is the Rare Books Reception Room on Van Pelt's 6th Floor. This handsome room is dedicated to the philanthropy of Lessing Rosenwald. Originally it housed only book cases. Now the walls are lined with rare antique oak paneling from the estate of Trustee Robert Dechert. Elegantly lighted, it is one of the University's most distinguished gathering places.

I point out these examples of past improvements not to denigrate Dr. Mosher's brave new plan, but to give some credit where it is deserved.

-- Maurice S. Burrison
Director, Faculty Club Art Gallery

(Response from Dr. Mosher)