Report from the dean
Mansueto Library opens.
Nearing completion at the corner of 57th Street and Ellis Avenue is an extraordinary symbol of the University of Chicago’s commitment to the text, the primary research material in many areas of the humanities and social sciences. When it is finished later in the spring, the Joe and Rika Mansueto Library will house a state-of-the-art facility for the Special Collections Research Center and some 3.5 million volumes, a 78 percent expansion of the capacity of the Joseph Regenstein Library. At a time when every other major research university has shuttled large parts of its collection off to storage miles distant from campus, the University of Chicago has invested in a facility that will maintain its entire holdings at the center of campus for at least the next two decades. Social sciences scholars and students were key contributors to the vision that is now becoming reality. SSD faculty spearheaded the planning for the new library as members of the Library Board and an ad hoc faculty taskforce on space for the collections. Sociology professor Andrew Abbott’s studies of the changing role of the library in liberal arts study and scholarship were particularly useful in shaping the University’s plans. And without the generosity of two of our social sciences alumni, the Mansuetos—Joe (AB’78, Business Administration, who is also MBA’80) and Rika Yoshida (AB’91, Anthropology)—and their dedication to the values of the University, the University of Chicago may well have added to the dreary march of key research collections to locations off campus, out of sight and out of mind. Now, instead, we have a magnificent building that harnesses 21st-century technology to meet the needs of today’s humanistic scholars: a lozenge-shaped glass-domed reading room atop millions of books shelved in 50-foot racks and retrieved—in less than five minutes—by a robotic forklift. You will want to see it for yourself, but until you can visit, take a look at the way-cool video tour of the library’s construction at mansueto.lib.uchicago.edu/videos.html. As for what this means for our scholarship and study, I can do no better than to quote the director of the University Library, Judith Nadler: “Groundbreaking research thrives on ready access to a wealth of scholarly materials—and inspiring spaces for their exploration. The Joe and Rika Mansueto Library gives us both.” Come check it out. John Mark Hansen, dean