The University Record, June 5, 1995

Duderstadt: Shapiro Library 'stands as a reminder of the U-M's commitment to undergraduate students'

By Mary Jo Frank
University Relations

The renovated Shapiro Library opened officially for business May 19 with tours and a dedication ceremony attended by more than 300 members of the University community, including friends and relatives of Vivian B. and Harold T. Shapiro, Regents, faculty, staff and students.

Named in honor of Harold Shapiro, the University's 10th president, and Vivian Shapiro, associate professor emeritus of social work, the 165,000-square-foot Shapiro Library now houses the Undergraduate Library and the unified Science Library.

"The newly renovated Shapiro Library stands as a reminder of the University's steadfast commitment to serve undergraduate students," noted President James J. Duderstadt.

"Within the walls of the Shapiro Library, students will find a library without walls, a virtual library. This beautiful brick and mortar building is a gateway to the world of ideas--a world filled with books and other printed materials, of course, but also digital videos, encyclopedias in digital form, access to the Internet, film and video still images," he said.

Other speakers at the 11 a.m. dedication ceremony, held on a grassy area next to the Shapiro Library, included Regent Nellie A. Varner; Donald E. Riggs, dean of the University Library; Barbara MacAdam, head of the Shapiro Undergraduate Library; Daisy Wu, head of the Shapiro Science Library; Michigan Student Assembly President Flint Wainess; and the Shapiros.

MacAdam said the mission of the Shapiro Library remains unchanged from when it opened in 1958: "To support the curricular and personal needs of students." However, the emerging global knowledge environment, profound innovations in undergraduate education and unparalleled technical change present new opportunities and challenges for students, she observed.

On behalf of the library staff, MacAdam accepted what she described as the challenge of the new facility--"to sustain the culture of the book, instill the love of learning and bring the world of knowledge and scholarship to future generations of Michigan students."

Riggs and Wu both talked about the state of transition facing academic libraries.

Wu, who has directed the Engineering and Basic Sciences Library since 1989, explained that the physics, astronomy, geology and biology collections have merged in the Science Library. The math and chemistry collections will be integrated this summer. The combined science collections will total more than 300,000 volumes, making it the nation's largest single collection of publications in pure science.

"With a combined science collection, users will find it easier to access materials under one roof, especially in related disciplines such as biochemistry, geophysics and environmental sciences. The new Science Library establishes a new frontier for interdisciplinary science research and scholarship at Michigan," Wu said.

Praising library staff who worked in the building throughout the two-year renovation, Riggs compared the project "to building a plane while flying it."

Wainess said the Shapiro Library has special meaning for him because "I can actually credit my birth to this granddaddy of undergraduate libraries, indirectly, of course. It was slightly less than 30 years ago that my parents were introduced on the second floor of the UGLi."

Wainess commended the University "for deciding to make those hallowed walls a little straighter, a little cleaner, a little more user-friendly. A community's commitment to its libraries is instructive. A community of learning, a community of research, can have no more vivid symbol of its successes."

Libraries have always been a place of romance and books have always been important to her family, Vivian Shapiro said. She and her husband met in the dusty stacks of McGill University and spent many hours there studying together.

Vivian Shapiro said she looks back on her life in Ann Arbor and years at the University as a great gift. "To have one's name be part of Michigan history is almost more than I can comprehend. It is a great honor for us and for our family."

Varner, whose first term as Regent coincided with Shapiro's tenure as president, compared the dedication to a reunion--an opportunity to see many old friends.

During Shapiro's tenure, the University had to grapple with a period of severe economic crisis in the state, Varner recalled. "Quality over quantity became the guiding principle for the University in the 1980s.

"Today, the struggles continue, but I am proud that the University has been able to move forward, to build new buildings and to breathe new life into older buildings such as the undergraduate library," Varner said.

Noting that many of their long-time friends and colleagues were in the audience, Shapiro, who left Ann Arbor in 1988 to become president of Princeton University, said, "This is a wonderful moment for both of us." He thanked a number of Regents, faculty members, and current and retired University administrators and also expressed his gratitude to the citizens of Michigan for their support of the U-M and to his wife, who, he said, "always found time to support me. She is my most honest and thoughtful critic."

From his East Coast vantage point, Shapiro said he sees the University of Michigan "as a great center of teaching, learning and innovation. I now see what a great beacon of light this institution is for the state and nation.

"It is a precious asset for the state and nation. Guard it well. Protect it. Go Blue."