“Here is a centrally located place, to which students will be drawn as by a beacon from inside its glass curtain walls.”

That’s how David Spadafora ’72 described Sawyer Library during its dedication on Sept. 20. Named for John E. Sawyer ’39, the college’s transformative 11th president, the library extends the Williams ethos that we are a community of scholars and ushers in a new era of teaching and learning. It encompasses old and new: A renovated Stetson Hall and a major addition together total more than 176,000 square feet.

“Here they will flock for group project work and class meetings that employ library materials, because much space is intentionally provided for these activities, because rare and special collection materials are integrated with everything else and expected to be used for education and research,” said Spadafora, president of the Newberry Library in Chicago and the recipient of a Williams Bicentennial Medal this fall for distinguished achievement. “Here they will find and use side by side physical books, digital simulacra and technology, including technology that connects this place with other libraries and classrooms far away…This library will serve the college as an intellectual commons, and rightly so. For we need a commons if we are to work together—students with students, students with faculty, both with library staff—on the problems posed and opportunities offered by proliferating information and rapidly evolving knowledge.”