The University of Kansas Libraries
Distinguished Professor Emerita Marilyn Stokstad gives $250,000 to KU Libraries
by Dylan Derryberry
A generous gift from a retired University of Kansas faculty member and noted art history scholar will leave a major mark on the University of Kansas Libraries this year.
Dr. Marilyn Stokstad, Judith Harris Murphy distinguished professor emerita of art history, has given $250,000 to KU Libraries to create a new interior reception space and remodel the reading room at Kenneth Spencer Research Library. The renovated space, to be named the Marilyn Stokstad Reading Room, will be more open, inviting and visible—key qualities at Spencer, where researchers spend most of their time in the reading room because the collections do not circulate and are preserved in closed stacks.
"As a world-renowned author and researcher in her own right, Dr. Stokstad clearly understands the importance of Spencer Research Library not only for faculty and researchers on campus, but throughout the world," said Lorraine Haricombe, dean of KU Libraries. "I am so pleased that Marilyn has chosen to support this effort, which will have such a positive impact on scholarly research. This project will be a fitting tribute to her support and her contributions to KU as a scholar and teacher."
Spencer Research Library has been dedicated to the preservation of the extensive collections of books, manuscripts, photos and other items since its opening in 1968. Stokstad hopes that her contribution to KU Libraries will encourage students and researchers to explore the collections that deepen our understanding of the vast histories of the world.
"Both the Spencer Museum of Art and the Kenneth Spencer Research Library have always felt like home to me," said Stokstad. "As a medievalist-art historian, you need both a museum and library in which to do your work. At KU, we are fortunate to have world-class institutions in both cases."
Stokstad, a member of the KU Libraries Board of Advocates, has been a longtime supporter and advocate for KU Libraries, with deep ties to both Spencer Research Library and Murphy Art & Architecture Library. She previously established a generous endowment to support the art history collections at KU Libraries. The Stokstad Reading Room project will include an enclosed consultation/teaching space for small groups within the reading room, a new central service point to make using the collections easier for visitors, and a new interior entryway. Infrastructure improvements include more power outlets and upgraded wiring, essential to 21st century researchers, and new flooring. Construction is slated for summer 2011, with completion anticipated by the start of the fall semester.
"I am thrilled that Dr. Stokstad has chosen to support Spencer Library," said Beth Whittaker, head of Spencer. "I hope this renovation will be the first of several major improvements to the building, retaining its historic character while allowing us to transform the way researchers, students and the public experience our outstanding collections."
Dr. Stokstad has been a generous donor to KU throughout her career. In addition to the libraries, she has supported the Spencer Museum of Art, the Hall Center for the Humanities, the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the Lied Center of Kansas.
Made possible through a gift from Helen F. Spencer in honor of her late husband, Kenneth Spencer Research Library and its staff are dedicated to the preservation of diverse collections ranging from Kansas historical records to national political documents. The gift will be managed by KU Endowment, the independent, nonprofit organization serving as the official fundraising and fund-management organization for KU.
For more information on Spencer Research Library please visit: http://spencer.lib.ku.edu.