Williams College to Dedicate Sawyer Library During Convocation Weekend

Media contact: Noelle Lemoine, communications assistant; tele: (413) 597-4277; email: [email protected]

WILLIAMSTOWN, Mass., September 5, 2014—Sawyer Library at Williams College will be dedicated on Saturday, Sept. 20, at 4 p.m. in the library’s Research Commons. The ceremony will include a student musical performance, student readings, and remarks by President Adam Falk and Bicentennial Medalist David Spadafora ’72, president of the Newberry Library in Chicago. It is free and open to the public.

Following the dedication, the public is invited to explore the new library. Light refreshments will be served at the open house taking place from 4:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

Sawyer Library, home to the college’s humanities and social sciences collections, juxtaposes the oldest and rarest of books with state-of-the-art technology and digital collections. Designed by Bohlin Cywinski Jackson, it unites the Chapin Library, College Archives, and the Center for Educational Technology. The library features individual and group study spaces, a beautifully restored, 24-7 reading room in historic Stetson Hall, multimedia-equipped classrooms, a videoconference room, a recording studio, exhibition spaces, faculty offices, and a venue for events.

“The dedication of the new library is a formal opportunity to thank everyone involved in planning, designing, constructing, funding, and readying the building to open in time for this academic year,” says director of libraries David Pilachowski. “Reaction to the building has been overwhelmingly positive, from the layout, furnishings, and amount of daylight to the melding of the historic with the contemporary.”

Part of the larger Stetson-Sawyer Project, which included Hollander and Schapiro halls, the library was put on hold when the global financial crisis hit in 2008. Four stories of new construction add 131,704 square feet to a renovated Stetson Hall, which served as the college’s library from 1923 until the original Sawyer Library opened in 1975. That building, now closed, will be disassembled. In its place will be a green space connecting the new library and Hollander and Schapiro halls with Paresky Center and the Frosh Quad.

Convocation and a campus-wide picnic will precede the library dedication. President Falk and College Council Co-Presidents Emily Dzieciatko and Erica Moszkowski will welcome the Class of 2015 at the ceremony, which formally launches the academic year. This year’s Bicentennial Medals, which honor members of the Williams community for distinguished achievement in any field of endeavor, will be presented at Convocation at 11 a.m., which also is free and open to the public.

In addition to library dedication speaker Spadafora, those receiving the Bicentennial Medal this year will be Convocation speaker Ethan Zuckerman ’93, director of the Center for Civic Media at M.I.T and a principal research scientist at the M.I.T Media Lab; Kristen Anderson-Lopez ’94, Oscar-winning songwriter for the Disney movie Frozen; Mary Cotton ’01, pseudonymous author of 11 best-selling novels for young adults and owner of Newtonville Books in Newton, Mass.; Kenard Gibbs ’86, CEO of Soul Train Holdings and co-founder of MadVision Entertainment; and Steven Rothstein ’78, recently retired president of the Perkins School for the Blind.

Medalists were selected for their achievements related to the theme of this year’s college-wide initiative centered around books, libraries, and information, the Book Unbound. Inspired by the new library, the initiative formally kicks off at the library’s dedication on Saturday, and is “an opportunity to bring us together around themes at the heart of the college’s intellectual and cultural life,” according to its organizers, professors Edan Dekel and Christopher Nugent.

About the Speakers

Library Dedication Speaker David Spadafora ’72

David Spadafora is president and librarian of the Newberry Library in Chicago. He earned his Ph.D. from Yale University, where he taught history and served on the administration before joining the faculty of Lake Forest College. Spadafora served as dean of the faculty and, from 1993 to 2001, as president of Lake Forest. His book on British Enlightenment-era historical optimism, The Idea of Progress in Eighteenth-Century Britain, was named a Choice Outstanding Book in 1991. He is currently working on a book-length project about the relationship between religion and secularism in Britain during the eighteenth century.

Convocation Speaker Ethan Zuckerman ’93

Ethan Zuckerman is director of the Center for Civic Media at M.I.T and a principal research scientist at the M.I.T Media Lab. After receiving his bachelor’s degree, he was a Fulbright scholar at the University of Ghana at Legon. His research focuses on the distribution of attention in mainstream and new media, the use of technology for international development, and the use of new media technologies by activists. Zuckerman is active in efforts to promote freedom of expression and fight censorship in online spaces.


For building locations on the Williams campus, please consult the map outside the driveway entrance to the Security Office located in Hopkins Hall on Main Street (Rte. 2), next to the Thompson Memorial Chapel, or call the Office of Communications (413) 597-4277. The map can also be found on the web at www.williams.edu/map


Published September 5, 2014