By Katie Ronske
Returning to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the library named in his honor, former President Vernon R. Alden was happy to share memories of his time at Ohio University.
"I love coming back here," Alden said. "I always say the eight years my late wife and I spent here were the most fascinating and lovely years of our lives."
Alden Library celebrated 40 years of service on Friday with a rededication ceremony for the public as well as historic displays and library tours. Featured speaker Rebecca Watts, chief of staff and special assistant to President Roderick McDavis, told guests that the building is even more important today than when it opened its doors in May 1969.
"Alden Library still stands as the academic heart and soul of Ohio University thanks to Vernon Alden's vision 40 years ago," Watts said.
At its inauguration, the library held 550,000 volumes, which had been moved by staff, students and community members from Chubb Hall across College Green. Since then, the library has collected more than 3 million volumes, 46,000 maps and more than 36,000 films, videos and DVDs.
"This year we got the three-millionth volume which is very unusual for a library and makes us one of the largest in the country," Alden said. "I'll be very happy if I see the day we have 5 million."
Its vibrancy has contributed to its national reputation. According to Scott Seaman, dean of Ohio University Libraries, the facility it ranks among the top 100 research libraries in North America and has reported about 6,400 entrances in a day when school is in session.
"The interesting thing is that even though so much of our material is available electronically we are actually seeing more and more use of the library building in the last five years Seaman said.
"Our entrances are up 73 percent and that is because there are librarians here 24 hours a day who help students navigate the network."
In the ensuing years, the library's physical presence also has grown.
"When we first dedicated the library we did not have the two wings and the commons area has opened so that students can be here 24 hours a day working on their computers," Alden said. "I always get a big kick out of the fact that there are so many students at any hour of the day that you come in here."