Westmont Magazine Voskuyl Library Turns 50
In 1968, Westmont students, faculty and staff moved a library, carrying every book and magazine from stacks set up throughout Kerrwood Hall to newly built Roger John Voskuyl Library. On December 3, the college celebrated the library’s 50th birthday with historic photos, a trivia contest and speeches by President Gayle D. Beebe, Provost Mark Sargent and library staff.
Diane Ziliotto, special collections librarian, recounted the meticulous move on May 16, 1968, when 62-yearold Eleanor Armington carried the first armload of books. Eleanor and her husband, Everett, donated $200,000 for the facility. He had sold his Euclid Road Machinery Company to General Motors in 1953, and the couple settled on a ranch in Summerland. They met President Roger Voskuyl at a local Rotary Club meeting and became interested in Westmont. Later, the Armingtons gave the first million-dollar gift for new residence halls.
The college planned to name the facility for the library, but the couple worked behind the scenes to honor President Voskuyl instead, whose birthday coincided with moving day. Voskuyl placed the last books on the shelves at the end of the move.
Vernon Ritter, the head librarian, planned the move for months and assigned a place for each volume in the new facility. Westmont cancelled classes for the day, and 450 people showed up and got to work. Following Ritter’s detailed directions, the movers easily transferred all the books to their new home.
Mary Logue, library director, quoted Ritter’s remarks at the library’s anniversary dedication. “As much as we like our building and as important as the building is . . . the building is not the library; it furnishes the physical environment, it is simply a means and the catalyst by which we can mix together in a meaningful and fruitful way the members of our academic community and the ideas that have made history and changed the world and will yet change us.”
“Fifty years later, this library is still a catalyst for our academic community to mix with the ideas that have made history and those that have and will change the world and us,” Logue said. “This building is important. It’s a starting point. And it’s more than that. The resources, the staff and those studying here make Voskuyl Library what it is. It’s a testament that 50 years later this building supports the needs of 21st century students.”
Provost Sargent praised the library staff’s creativity with things like game nights. “They’ve started tutoring services to enrich classes, working closely with various academic departments,” he said. “We not only honor the founding of this library but also thank the many people who’ve worked to improve students’ experiences.”
President Beebe said his love for libraries developed through frequent trips with his mother as a youngster in Eugene, Oregon. “I hope Voskuyl Library will always stand as a place that embodies one of the deepest and best held values of the college as a center of the mind and a place where students explore the next horizon with their intellect,” he said.