The FHU family gathered April 8, 2016, to celebrate the realization of a beloved librarian’s dream and thank John and Rosemary Brown and other donors, as the Hope Barber Shull Academic Resource Center was dedicated. The facility opened for student use in February.
Hope Shull “had loved libraries long before she knew me,” her husband, Don, said. “I cannot say enough about the Browns,” he added. “They knew Hope a lot longer than I did. When she was a fifth grade girl donating books to her elementary school library, they knew her. They knew the kind of building she would want.”
The Browns, alumni from Kalamazoo, Michigan, were lead donors for the construction of the library. “When you hear people talk about Hope’s dream,” Rosemary Brown said, “this is definitely a fulfillment of that dream.”
Dr. C. J. Vires, provost and vice president for academics, called the new facility, “a beacon that guides us as we move forward with enhancing the undergraduate learning experience. It will allow us to go farther and move faster than we had only dreamed of at one time.”
Wade Osburn, library director, said, “Hope was a part, especially in spirit, of the entire planning process. I am so pleased her legacy has been preserved in the form of a library.”
Will Shull said of his mother, “She knew not only what the library was and should be, but what it could evolve into.” The aim was “to place the library at the center, the core of campus, to make the heart of the university be where information is free,” he said.
At the dedication ceremony, the University Chorale presented an original composition by Dr. Alan Kinningham, a professor in the fine arts department, entitled “The Ark of Hope.” A commemorative portrait of Hope Shull, painted by alumna Jennifer Reeves, was unveiled by Dr. Joe Wiley, FHU president, and the Barber and Shull families. The portrait hangs in a reading area located near the west entrance of the new facility.
Hope Barber Shull served as library director until shortly before her passing March 10, 2013, following a battle with cancer. She had long dreamed of a larger Freed-Hardeman library that would increase the materials available and better meet the expanding and shifting role of libraries. She had met with the architects and was instrumental in the planning phase of the building. It bears her imprint in its design and in its aim to better serve students, according to Wiley.
The 49,599-square-foot-facility opened to rave reviews. When Don Shull visited the three-story facility after it opened for its first day of business, he pronounced it beautiful. “It’s the kind of library Hope dreamed of,” he said. “From the beginning, Hope wanted a building that was designed to look beautiful, to be state-of-the-art, and, of course, to be highly functional.” At the dedication ceremony, he declared, “If Hope were here today, she might even be speechless.”
The ARC is home to the Loden-Daniel Library, the Hope Barber Shull Library, KC’s Coffee House, the Learning Center and the Center for Instructional Innovation (CII). It also provides reading and study areas, wireless Internet access, group study rooms and a quiet room.
The first floor is designed for socializing, working in groups and enjoying coffee from KC’s. The Learning Commons and help desk, where students can receive technology assistance for class assignments, are near the east, first-floor entrance. Stacks of books on compact, moving bookcases, the university’s archives and the reading room are on the second floor. The third floor houses tutoring and testing areas, private study rooms and the CII.Students are impressed with the building. Arthur Martin, a senior from Swansea, Illinois, was the first student in when the doors were opened. He said, “It greatly adds to places students can congregate. It has a plethora of spaces students can study and hang out.” He was also pleased with the number of help desks, particularly the availability of the tech desk, and accessibility for students with handicaps. His greatest enthusiasm, however, was reserved for the compact, moving bookcases. “When I saw those,” he explained, “I said, ‘Hogwarts!’”