If the library is the heart of the university, Colgate’s pulse quickened with Friday’s dedication of the Case Library and Geyer Center for Information Technology.
The campus community welcomed alumni and friends from around the region for a marathon celebration of the $57.5 million facility, built on the footprint of the former Case Library.
While students worked in reading rooms and study carrels, staff members led tours of their new home.
Plasma screen televisions carried time-lapse construction photography and a list of those who invested in the facility, allowing attendees to see both the method and the means by which the university built a top-tier information clearinghouse.
After lunch in the Hieber Café, celebration attendees heard from keynote speaker John Seely Brown, a renowned research scientist who has written extensively about learning, collective innovation, digital culture, and globalization.
With examples such as virtual study groups, the proliferation of shared scholarship online, and even group authorship of books, he demonstrated the importance of collaborative creativity in the participatory media environment that is now known as web 2.0.
“Life in the digital age is a culture of participation: building, tinkering, remixing, and sharing,” which, he said, raises new questions about quality and authority. “The purpose of a liberal education is to learn to make judgments. That is more true now than ever.”
During the dedication ceremony in the Hieber Reading Room, President Rebecca Chopp pointed out just a few of the ways in which Case-Geyer would facilitate creative collaboration at Colgate: within this “collaboratory,” students can hear a lecture, break out into teamwork, then retire to a computer for individual research — all on the same topic. Class presentations can be filmed on the first floor, edited on the second, and screened on the fifth.
Lyle Roelofs, provost and dean of the faculty, thanked the library’s 161 donors for making all of this possible, and he introduced several individuals who provided critical leadership throughout the construction process: Board of Trustees chairman J. Christopher Clifford ’67, P’93, trustee Robert Kindler ’76, P’04’08, and Helen Geyer W’42, P’71, whose gift named the Geyer Center for Information Technology.
Geyer’s husband, William ’42, passed away in 2004. He was a geology major, businessman, and trustee who played professional football before serving in World War II.
“If Bill Geyer was here today he’d be so excited and so proud — as I am — to know that we played a part in this great, awesome structure,” Geyer told the audience. “May this building be blessed with many future generations of aspiring and successful students.”