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Countway Library Rededicated on September 28

On September 28, 2000, the Countway Library of Medicine hosted a day-long rededication ceremony, which capped the Countway's two-year, $26 million renovation. Among the guests were several individuals whose generosity made the renovation a reality. Dr. Joseph Martin, Dean of the Harvard Medical School (HMS), honored Ms. Amalie Kass and Dr. Paul Russell for their contributions to the renovation fundraising effort. Members of the Countway family attended, continuing a tradition begun by Sanda Countway who generously supported the Library's construction in 1963.

Echoed in the comments and discussions at the rededication were issues and questions raised at the Library's original dedication in 1965. Speakers and guests alike grappled with the problems facing libraries in the 21st century, from the stature of print materials in an increasingly electronic world to the direction libraries should take to meet the challenges of modern knowledge management.

A tent on the HMS quad served as the venue for an afternoon symposium entitled "Medical Libraries: Will a Rich Past Assure a Relevant Future?" Dr. Allan Brandt, the Amalie Moses Kass Professor of the History of Medicine and Professor of the History of Science at HMS, served as moderator. Panelists included Dr. Marc W. Kirschner, Carl W. Walter Professor of Cell Biology and Head of the Cell Biology Department at HMS; Dr. Donald A.B. Lindberg, Director of the National Library of Medicine; Dr. Charles E. Rosenberg,Janice and Julian Bers Professor of the History and Sociology of Science at the University of Pennsylvania; Robert Wedgeworth, University Librarian Emeritus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; and Ann J. Wolpert, Director of Libraries at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

A formal rededication ceremony followed the symposium. In addition to HMS Dean Joseph Martin, guest speakers on the podium included: Dr. Barry Bloom, Dean of the Harvard School of Public Health (HSPH); Dr. R. Bruce Donoff, Dean of the Harvard School of Dental Medicine; Dr. Leonard W. Morse, President of the Boston Medical Library; Dr. Donald Lindberg; Professor Sidney Verba, Carl H. Pforzheimer University Professor and Director of the University Library; Pamela Surkan, a doctoral candidate at HSPH; and Judith Messerle, the Countway Librarian. Each speaker reflected on the importance of libraries to students, educators, scholars, and researchers, and each expressed confidence that the Countway renovation would to be a significant step in preserving the best of yesterday's library while preparing to meet tomorrow's information needs.

Following the ceremony, Dr. Hanna Holborn Gray, a fellow of the Harvard Corporation as well as President Emerita and Harry Pratt Judson Distinguished Service Professor of History at the University of Chicago, gave a keynote address entitled "Keeping the Books." According to Dr. Gray, "The library and librarian are perhaps no longer so much the keepers and possessors of the books as they are the designers and openers of the gates, pilots and guides to a huge and constantly rapidly evolving flow of publication." Reflecting on the fiscal and philosophical pressures facing universities and their libraries, Dr. Gray noted that libraries "need to keep the books, not only as rare and valuable objects for display and careful use, but as the living and still moving account of culture, learning, and thought, to be reappropriated as the substance from which a genuine depth of intellectual investigation and reflection is reformed in the present and beyond."

A champagne toast (donated by OVID Technologies, Inc.) followed Dr. Gray's address, after which Dr. Leonard Morse unveiled the new Countway logo. Morse explained that the logo's "stable and geometrically balanced form also demonstrates accessibility and outwardness. The logomark uses the book as a metaphor representing the library as an information resource, a reservoir of knowledge, as well as the unification of partners coming together to create a unique organization."

In commenting on the rededication, Countway Librarian Judith Messerle remarked, "This is a day to celebrate all that the renovation of the Countway accomplished. It is also a day to show our gratitude to all those who helped make the renovation possible."

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Last modified on Thursday, April 18, 2002.