NORTHAMPTON, Mass. – Smith College’s Neilson Library recently closed the book on its fundraising campaign to cover the cost of renovating one of the century-old building’s first reading rooms to its original use.
Overall, $735,000 was raised for the project, including $175,000 garnered through the efforts of Lucy Wilson Benson ’49, trustee emeritus and longtime library supporter, who challenged a number of her classmates to raise that amount in honor of their 60th reunion.
“I am thrilled that we have made our goal and grateful to everyone who has contributed, but particularly to Lucy Benson, whose tireless efforts made a tremendous difference,” said Christopher Loring, director of libraries.
Now the Friends of the Smith College Libraries is determined to return the reading room to student use. Located on the main floor near the library's entrance, the room served as a circulation processing area in recent years and was referred to as the Periodicals Room.
As envisioned, the renovated reading room will offer soft seating, good lighting and a quiet environment where, according to Mary Irwin, library gifts and development officer, "students can sit and read or check their emails or just relax between classes."
Benson urged her classmates to contribute to the project, noting "it will be deeply appreciated and welcomed by the students and faculty alike."
The ongoing reading room renovation is part of a larger plan to create attractive and comfortable spaces in the library.
With excerpts from NewsSmith.