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Grasselli Library turns 50

September 29th, 2011

“This is not your mother’s or your grandmother’s library,” Jeanne Somers said as she welcomed visitors to Grasselli Library on Tuesday, Sept. 27. This fall, the library is celebrating its 50th Anniversary.

Somers, the library’s current director was proud to say that Grasselli is moving forward into the world of technology, merging print with digital media, however, she was quick to note that the library has an interesting past that should not be forgotten.

Josephine Grasselli, daughter of Caesar Grasselli, the noted benefactor of John Carroll, always thought the campus needed a library. From a young age she saved her money and eventually raised enough to begin work on the current building. Laurene Dicillo, JCU’s archivist, said that this was more than just a library for Grasselli, she put her heart and soul into a learning space she thought was necessary for students.

Dicillo works with the history of JCU every day. The archives, which are located in the lowest level of Grasselli, house photos, university records, faculty awards, and much more dating back to 1886 when the university was founded.

She has a handwritten list of the first students to ever be enrolled at JCU which at the time was St. Ignatius College.

“I even have a copy of the first Carroll News from 1925,” she said.  These are only a few of the thousands of items located in the archives.

During the celebration on Tuesday there was a short program that took a look into the history of the library and its directors. Marci Milota, a veteran staff member, has spent more than half of her life working in Grasselli. It was easy to tell as she spoke how much the library meant to her.

She knew each of the previous four library directors on a personal level and could not express how much they did for the library.

Milota watched the library grow into the resource center that it is today. She said “it is amazing to think of the days when we used typewriters. Today, libraries wouldn’t exist without computers.”

In 1994, the library used only 5 percent of its budget on electronics, mainly CD-ROMS.  This year over 50 percent of the budget was allotted for electronic resources. It is no surprise to the 29 staff members in the library that technology is vital to college students and their academic work. Somers wants students to make the most of Grasselli’s resources, both print and electronic.

Sophomore Christine Fleig is a fan of the Center for Digital Media, which was opened in March of 2010. She likes that the Macs in the Center have the program Final Cut.

“I’m a Mac-over-PC person,” Fleig said.

Somers is also working hard to make the library a “social academic space.”

“We encourage students to work together in study groups or visit Java City,” she said.

Some students also enjoy the quiet atmosphere the library provides.

“It’s different than a dorm,” freshman Rob Morel said. “It’s more welcoming.”

Will there be a celebration in 50 years for Grasselli’s 100th anniversary?  Somers and Dicillo both seem to think so.

“The library is absolutely essential,” said Somers. “It is such a special place for so many people.”