Senator urges study

U.S. Senator Rbert C. Byrd dedicates a college library addition and a legislative studies center that bears his name at Shepherd

U.S. Senator Rbert C. Byrd dedicates a college library addition and a legislative studies center that bears his name at Shepherd

August 23, 2002|by DAVE McMILLION

Shepherd College officials opened the doors Thursday to a new $15.9 million library that not only will serve the needs of the growing college, but will house a legislative studies center in tribute to U.S. Sen. Robert C. Byrd.

It was standing room only in a large common area inside the new Scarborough Library addition and the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies as Byrd spoke during an afternoon dedication ceremony.

Shepherd College expanded its Scarborough Library because it had become so cramped for space that some parts of its collection could not be put on shelves, college President David L. Dunlop said.


The 37-year-old library was built to handle 100,000 volumes but its collection has grown to 459,000 items, said Rachel Schipper, dean of libraries and information sciences.

Dunlop met with Byrd about the need to expand the library, and Byrd, D-W.Va., responded by securing $13 million in federal funds to help build the addition.

The new, three-floor addition will give the library another 46,000 square feet of space, which will about double the library's size, school officials said.

Offices for the Robert C. Byrd Center for Legislative Studies will be housed on the first floor. The center includes a 100-person auditorium, classrooms, a suite of offices and a two-story reading room in a rotunda.

The second floor holds the library's reference book collection, a reading room and computer work stations.

The collections area is on the third floor, which has 12 study tables where students can plug in laptop computers, Schipper said.

The legislative studies center will serve many purposes, including providing space to store papers Byrd has written during his years in public service.

No member of Congress has studied the legislative branch as closely as Byrd "or applied it more effectively," said Ray Smock, former historian for the U.S. House of Representatives, who will be director of the center.

"We plan to keep that spirit alive in this new center," said Smock.

All of Byrd's papers will be kept at the site, including those now stored in other locations in the state, such as at West Virginia University, Schipper said. The papers will be kept in a climate-controlled room to protect their condition, she said.

The center will be operated by the Congressional Education Foundation, a private educational organization that will oversee seminars, workshops, teacher institutes and public lectures at the facility.

In his keynote address, Byrd spoke of the value of learning and said libraries can help people "cut through the fog, discern the truth, and see through attempts at public manipulation."

Byrd said he was disappointed in the public's lack of knowledge about the U.S. Constitution, and said they need to appreciate the "blood that flowed to bring about this magnificent creation."

"You listen to the politicians and you take their word. Don't do it. Study," said Byrd, who has served in the U.S. Senate for 44 years and who has held more leadership positions in the Senate than any other senator.

After Byrd's speech, the crowd moved outside where, over the entrance, a plaque bearing the senator's name was unveiled.

It took about 18 months to build the addition. A renovation of the Scarborough Library is under way. The facility will be upgraded to match the new addition, said Schipper. The two buildings are not yet connected internally, but should be by next July, she said.

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