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40 Years of Watzek Library
The need for a new library at Lewis & Clark College was apparent early in the 1950s when the then Wallace Howe Lee Library was spreading throughout what is now the lower levels of Albany Quadrangle. But it would not be until the mid-1960s, soon after James Pirie became library directory, that construction on a new facility began. The official groundbreaking ceremony was held on April 17, 1966, and the new library, named for Aubrey R. Watzek, opened at the beginning of the fall term 1967. The dedication ceremony took place on Sunday, October 29, 1967, with Dr. Robert Vosper, University Library at the University of California, Los Angeles, as the guest speaker. The dedication plaque, now on the 3rd floor of the Library, includes a quote from John Ruskin:
When we build, let us think that we build forever. Let it not be for present delight, nor for present use alone: let it be such work as our descendants will thank us for, and let us think, as we lay stone on stone, that a time is to come when those stones will be held sacred because our hands have touched them, and that men will say as they look upon the labour and wrought substance of them, "see this our fathers did for us."
As we commemorate the 40th anniversary of the opening and dedication of Watzek Library this academic year, we can reflect upon these words of Ruskin and, indeed, thank our fathers, and our mothers, for what was done for us. We can also appreciate that the library was not built "for present delight, nor for present use alone," as the building has held up well in its four decades of service. It did need expansion and a facelift in the mid-1990s but, in many ways, the building still reflects "the theme of air and lightness" that was highlighted in the dedication brochure in 1967 as well as the "warm accents for the Oregon weather" that were part of architect Paul Thiry´s design.
The primary mission and activity of Lewis & Clark College are very much the same as they were in 1967 and, although the mission of the Watzek Library has not changed significantly in 40 years, the activities undertaken within the building have changed dramatically. The utilization of technology as is done today was not even a dim vision on the horizon in 1967 (and was only just coming into some view in the mid-1990s when the building was renovated), but the building has generally adapted well to these technological developments. And for that we are thankful that the Library was not built "for present delight, nor for present use alone."
During this academic year, we are commemorating the opening of Watzek Library, and as the dedication plaque states, "the builders of this library" that were many in terms of support for the project. We will be reflecting on the support that Aubrey R. Watzek gave for this building and other architectural projects in the Northwest. We also will be honoring Paul Thiry for his contributions in the design of this building and others on campus. And we will honor Chief Lelooska, whose artwork is an integral part of what makes this building what it is, part of the physical and cultural landscape of Portland, Oregon, and the Pacific Northwest.
And we will use this time to reflect on how the Watzek Library can continue to provide for the needs of the students, faculty, staff of Lewis & Clark College, and the broader community it serves so that others in the future can look back and thank us for what we did.
-Jim Kopp, Director, Watzek Library