Intercom Online......September 7, 2000


The new central circulation area is the architectural centerpiece of the Libraries. The area bridges the gap between the historic mall entrance of Pattee Library and the new Curtin Road entrance of Paterno Library.
Photo: Greg Grieco


Eunju Kim, a graduate student in speech communication, studies in the The Paterno Family Humanities Reading Room. Although furnished to resemble a historic reading room, the area is fully wired and includes a data port in every reading lamp.
Photo: Greg Grieco



"Stacks," a sculpture by Peter Calaboyias, was recently installed at the entrance to the new Paterno Library. It consists of four cast bronze plates, each measuring 9.5 feet high.

Photo: Greg Grieco



The card catalog area also is modernized, with computers for information searches.
Photo: Greg Grieco


New library wired for future challenges

By Amy Milgrub Marshall
University Libraries

In 1983, when the Board of Trustees honored Penn State football Coach Joseph V. Paterno for leading the Nittany Lions to their first national football championship, he took advantage of his captive audience to promote a cause close to his heart -- Penn State's libraries. He urged the trustees to make Penn State number one in academics as well as athletics, saying, "You can't have a great university without a great library."

Nearly 20 years later, the completion of the Pattee Library renovations and Paterno Library construction has produced a state-of-the-art library facility on the University Park campus, with additional space and an improved technological infrastructure that allow users to access both print and electronic resources more easily.

The new Paterno Library will be officially dedicated in a ceremony from 2 to 3:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8, in front of Pattee Library. Joe and Sue Paterno will be among those speaking at the event.

The public may tour the new facilities throughout the dedication weekend. Walking guides will be available at all service desks to assist in self-guided tours and guides will be stationed at various locations in the Libraries from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. Friday, Sept. 8. A virtual tour also is available online at

Pattee Library and Paterno Library seat approximately 2,000 users and occupy nearly 490,000 square feet, including 139,000 square feet of new space and 250,000 square feet of renovated space. The additional and renovated space allowed the University Libraries to realign collections into eight subject libraries.

The reorganization of materials into more focused areas of service decreases collection sprawl, encourages natural linkages with the colleges and presents better options for interdisciplinary research.

The new complex is truly wired, with more than 150 miles of cable for electronic and phone lines, nearly 2,000 data ports for computer hook-ups and almost 500 powerful computer workstations. Wired seminar and instruction rooms provide opportunities for interactive teaching and learning.

In addition, the new, 134-seat Lawrence G. and Ellen Foster Auditorium has data ports in every chair, plus equipment for digital presentations.

"The new library provides an electronic communications infrastructure that positions Penn State University Libraries at the forefront of adapting networked information technology resources to meet the digital information needs of researchers, students and others well into the 21st century," said Nancy L. Eaton, dean of University Libraries.

In 1993, before digital information became part of everyday vocabulary, Paterno and his wife, Suzanne P. Paterno, led the Campaign for the Library, a "focus campaign" that raised $13.75 million in private support to build a new library at University Park. More than 3,000 donors contributed to this campaign, including 95 percent of the Libraries' faculty and staff.

Ground was broken for the Paterno Library in April 1997, with the Pattee Library renovations beginning in 1998.

The Paterno family's support of the Libraries dates back to the early 1980s, when they established a book acquisition fund that is now the Libraries' largest endowment. They later established the Paterno Family Librarian for Literature and contributed funds for The Paterno Family Humanities Reading Room, a grand-scale reading room reminiscent of those in libraries of the past, located in Pattee Library.

In designing the new library and planning the Pattee Library renovations, building architects Celli-Flynn and Associates, Architects and Planners of Pittsburgh took advantage of the opportunity to create logical paths of movement within the complex.

"Three major additions and other alterations to Pattee Library over the past 50 years produced room needed for collections and seating, but eclipsed the logical flow of space," said Thomas C. Celli, one of the architects who worked on the project.

The circulation area, located within easy access of both the historic mall entrance and the new Curtin Road entrance, became the centerpiece of the architects' design.

"From this location, clear paths of movement to Paterno Library and Pattee Library are evident, as is access to The Paterno Family Humanities Reading Room," said Celli.

Paterno Library houses six of the eight subject libraries contained in the new facility: the Maps Library; The Eberly Family Special Collections Library, which includes Historical Collections and Labor Archives, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and the Penn State University Archives; the Social Sciences Library; the William and Joan Schreyer Business Library; the Life Sciences Library; and the Education and Behavioral Sciences Library. Pattee Library houses the Samuel I. and Kate Sidewater Gateway Commons, a fully electronic subject library with staff trained to help students get started on their research; the George and Sherry Middlemas Arts and Humanities Library, which has the largest collection of the eight subject libraries; and Fred Waring's America, an extensive collection of Waring memorabilia previously located in an off-campus building.

Other new features in Pattee Library include MacKinnon's Café, a snack bar near the west entrance; a museum-quality diorama for the "original" Nittany Lion in the entrance lobby; and an exhibit area on the first floor, connected to the circulation area. In addition, The Paterno Family Humanities Reading Room, although furnished to resemble a historic reading room, is equipped for the 21st century with data ports in every reading lamp.

With the completion of Pattee Library and Paterno Library, the University Libraries now have both the physical and virtual presence to serve the needs of the great University that Joe Paterno talked about almost 20 years ago. The integration of traditional library resources and digital information technologies better positions the Libraries to foster the growth of their collections and ensure Penn State's recruitment of top-notch faculty and students.

For more information, check the Web at, or call (814) 865-0401.

Back to news index

Back to Intercom home page

Digital Intercom is produced in the Office of University Relations at The Pennsylvania State University.
This site was developed by Annemarie Mountz.
Updated by Chris Koleno.