The sounds of the first stages of construction on the new Jerry Falwell Library are echoing across Liberty University’s campus as old metal buildings are cleared away to make room for the school’s biggest financial investment in any facility to date.
Named for Liberty’s founder, Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr., the new freestanding library will be the focal point and most significant project in the current five-year campus transformation. The four-story, 170,000-square-foot structure will provide the latest in technology, resources, services, and amenities for students, faculty, and staff. Located just west of the Arthur S. DeMoss Learning Center and a soon-to-be redesigned commons area, the Jerry Falwell Library is scheduled for completion in late 2013.
Looking back over Liberty’s courageous history, there has always been a vision for the future, an energy and enthusiasm seen in Dr. Falwell and his dream for a world- class Christian university from the day it began in 1971. The spacious, welcoming library will be the perfect building to bear his name and honor his life and ministry. Many who share Liberty’s mission are supporting the library through an innovative campaign and contributing engraved bricks for the entrances.
Recalling his father’s commitment and challenge, “If it’s Christian, it ought to be better,” Chancellor Jerry Falwell, Jr. said, “We believe this facility will become the bridge between Liberty’s original vision for academic excellence and the final fulfillment of that vision. From the automated book retrieval system to the dramatic expansion of our budget for print books and electronic books, this building is about resources, service, and student spaces. It will be a statement of our commitment to academic excellence.”
Looking forward to everything the new library will offer, students are excited about what it will bring to the university. More than 5,000 attended the historic groundbreaking on March 7, capturing the moment on smartphones and sharing it through social media.
Colin Mukri, a Worship and Music Studies Major, said, “It’s telling me as a student that the university cares. I think my favorite feature will be the book tower and the robotic system.”
The automated book retrieval system darting through the four-story book tower will be visible from various points in the library. From a computer within the library or other locations, students will be able to search and select a book in the electronic catalog, browse the pages of the book, view surrounding books in the collection, and have the desired books available at a collection point in minutes. The book tower will allow more space for reading areas and the automated system will save valuable study time, promoting greater product creation. It will also save money because it allows nine times as many books to be stored in the same amount of building space as traditional stacks.
A beautiful addition to the campus, the Jerry Falwell Library will also be a symbol of the university’s commitment to equipping Liberty’s students to go out and impact their world.
“I’m going to be able to look back at a campus that’s excelling academically and prizing intellectual achievement and really look back and say, ‘Yes, that’s where I was trained,” said Matt Mihelic, a Liberty University School of Law student.
Sharing the vision for Liberty’s future, students, alumni, faculty, staff, and friends of the university are joining the Jerry Falwell Library Campaign, prayer by prayer and brick by brick. As with any venture at Liberty, prayer has led every aspect of this project. Now, in keeping with the advantages of technology the library will offer, commemorative bricks are being donated online.
“Everyone will benefit from this library and everyone has the chance to be a part of it,” said Ron Kennedy, senior vice president of Marketing.
Leading the way, Chancellor Falwell and his wife, Becki, donated the first bricks in honor of family members at a first-brick ceremony held in March. The Brick Campaign officially launched in April with an enthusiastic response from donors. Personalized bricks have been reserved as tributes to graduates, expressions of appreciation, recognition of employees, and celebrations of families.
Alumni, students, and friends of the university have contributed bricks to the campaign in honor and in memory of Dr. Falwell, sharing stories of his sacrifice, commitment, and determination to Liberty’s mission and the love he shared with all the Liberty family.
Unlike the capital campaigns of many other organizations, which are accessible only to those making much larger donations, the Brick Campaign has a level of participation for anyone wanting to support this exciting new facility at the heart of Liberty’s campus. Just as the library will serve the entire Liberty community, members of that entire community are supporting the library.
“Liberty has meant so much to our family,” said one parent who donated an engraved brick for each of her children. “When our three Liberty graduates come back for Homecoming or other visits, they’ll see their bricks at the library reminding them how proud we are of them and what a blessing Liberty has been in their lives. It’s good to leave a legacy to something you believe in.”
To donate a brick and view the latest updates on the library, including a live construction webcam, go to www.Liberty.edu/JFLibrary.
Breaking Ground and Building for the Future
More than 5,000 celebrated the Groundbreaking Ceremony for the new Jerry Falwell Library on March 7. Students, faculty, staff, civic leaders, guests, and Falwell family members gathered on a cold, clear morning to honor Liberty’s founder and share the vision that Dr. Jerry Falwell, Sr. began in 1971.
The ceremony was intentionally timed to immediately follow Convocation, giving students the opportunity to participate – and participate they did. Students streamed from the Vines Center to the new library site, crowding to hear the speakers and share in the excitement.
Wielding golden shovels, Chancellor Falwell, members of his family, and university trustees and executives broke ground to begin construction on what is to become the heart of the university. Then, to the cheers of thousands of students, Falwell traded his shovel for the controls of an excavator and tore into the old Schilling Center. People were surprised the chancellor knew how to operate the excavator from experience he had using similar machinery on his farm. Students and staff posed for pictures with the Chancellor and carried away chunks of old bricks as memories of the historic day.