Preus Library


Preus Library was dedicated on May 11, 1969 thanks to the donations from students and alumni as well as federal loans. Koren Hall, which had functioned as the Luther College library prior to the construction of Preus, had been designed to serve a maximum of 300 students but the population of Luther students continued to grow exponentially until overcrowding became a problem. The idea of a new library was first proposed by the Board of Regents in a resolution passed June 1, 1963, making the new library the next construction project for Luther College. Situated just north of Brandt Hall and south of the Olin Building, Preus Library faces the center of Campus across from the Dahl Centennial Union.


After the Board of Regents agreed to build a new library, a faculty committee, chaired by Oivind Hovde the librarian, was appointed to begin planning. Donald Gray, of the Altfillisch firm was designated as the architect and by 1965 a complete drawing of the building had been completed. Hovde and Gray worked extensively on the subsequent plans and requirements for the structure. For research purposes both men attended sessions of the American Library Association on the subject of new construction opportunities while also traveling to college libraries located throughout the Midwest.


In the spring of 1966 an article in College Chips appeared signed by thirteen students asking for donations from their fellow students. In the spring of 1966, the students of Luther College began donating funds to meet a proposed goal of $100,000. By August of 1967, the student body had pledged almost $111,600 and added another $25,000 in the following fall semester becoming the largest financial support by students for any building project in Luther College's history. The library was also unusual in that it received an outright grant of $533,673 from the federal government as well as a federal loan of $1,120,000 from the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare. Grants were also accepted from the Lutheran Brotherhood and The Kresge Foundation.


Gray and Hovde planned a library that would be both aesthetically pleasing and functional. They allowed the Luther College students some amount of contribution in the planning of the library interior, doing extensive interviews with students that eventually influenced the library that is seen today. The stacks, it was decided, would be located in the center of the room with study areas along the walls to prevent students from having to disturb others in their quest for a book. The stacks and offices were designed to allow expansion. For students there were set aside twelve group study rooms, twelve faculty research rooms, as well as additional spaces for audio-visual materials, rare books, and classrooms. The library plan was set to accommodate up to 2,500 students with room for 900 study spaces.


The library was named after the Preus family, which had been closely associated with the college since its founding. The family includes two past Luther College presidents, father (C. K. Preus) and son (O. J. H. Preus). In 1977 the alumni directory listed no less than 25 members of the Preus family, excluding in-laws. The Preus Library was dedicated in 1969 in a ceremony awarding eight distinguished service awards to alumni. Four of those honored were from the Preus family: Herman A., seminary professor; Wilhelm C., attorney; Paul G., college president; and Nelson F., churchman. Also recognized were four librarians: Kenneth Fagerhaugh (Carnegie-Mellon University), Donald O. Rod (University of Northern Iowa), Gerhard Naeseth (University of Wisconsin), and Luther's own Oivind Hovde.


Today Preus Library has been technologically updated to include both a PC based computer lab and a Mac based computer lab. The library also includes now an ICN classroom. For both of these, a set of offices has been set aside for a technology help desk to aid students and faculty in the use of computer based technology across campus. The card catalog of the past has been replaced by an extra study area and open use computers as students can now access a search resource through the library website.


Preus Library

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