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It’s a special occasion for one of the academic hubs on campus. As the Mulva Library turns 10, we asked users to speak to their love of this locus of learning.

Ten Years Speaks Volumes to a Library to Love

It’s a party! The Mulva Library celebrated its first decade last week with a Sept. 5 birthday bash featuring – what else! – cake and games.

To commemmorate the anniversary, we sought stories and fond recollections from some of the library’s many users over its first 10 years. These testimonials were bound in a souvenir volume presented to the lead donors whose generosity brought the Third Street landmark into being. We share a selection here.

President Emeritus Tom Kunkel: 
“Among my first official ‘duties’ at St. Norbert was signing one of the library’s massive steel girders just before it was hoisted into place by a giant crane. I vividly remember thinking how lucky I was to be starting my presidency at the same time this great gift was becoming a reality – and how lucky we all were to have such generous and far-sighted benefactors as Jim and Miriam Mulva.” 

Peter Romenesko ’10:
“When I was a student, I was amazed ... at how the library acted as a sort of ‘knowledge- and culture-first’ nucleus around which other cultural and education-driven additions to the campus could leverage. The Mulva Library has developed a wonderful synergy with the communities it serves.” 

Laurie MacDiarmid (English): 
“I’ve taught more than one course in the Mulva Library and enjoy the feeling of energy generated on the first floor, in Ed’s, and then theMulva Library quiet reflective energy that emanates from the second and third floors. If I come up with an idea on the fly – like asking students to go out and find a particular story or poem – I can do that, or I can meet with them in Ed’s for a more informal discussion or one-on-one meeting about revision. In short, the space of the library serves as a source of inspiration, motivation and connection. The library is always buzzing with life and has provided us a space for invention, reflection and community/communio that we didn’t know we were missing.” 

Akeem Edmonds ’15:
“I was president of the Student Government Association at the time of the buildout of the Mulva Studio. The director of the library asked that we participate in providing feedback to represent the student community. We had a voice in the design of the Mulva Studio through group sessions, surveys and meetings. Because of this involvement, we were able to help create a space that appealed to all students. ... As a fourth-grade teacher, I have taken the concepts designed for the Mulva Studio to my current classroom and created a space that encompasses various learning and studying styles.”

Sarah Titus ’12 (Library): 
“The items found in archives and special collections tell the story of the institution that gathers them. Throughout its 120-year history, St. Norbert College has been hugely impacted by its community and by the world around it. Our collection testifies to that impact, holding religious texts brought over by our founding abbot signed with his own hand, the military uniform worn every day by the Norbertine who went overseas as a chaplain in WWII, and even the physical remains of buildings long since gone. Down to the smallest button, the archives and special collections at St. Norbert College hold the stories of those who built this campus and who helped shape our present.”

The Rev. James P. Neilson (Art): 
“Learning in an environment wherein natural light is part of the architecture and mood of the space, where the aroma of coffee wafts through the air, where there is art on the walls and there are dedicated guides visibly present gives us all a genuine experience of radical hospitality and respect.

“The library director and staff are tireless in their creativity and ongoing assessment of the vitality and use of the various library resources and spaces. I see not only best practices in our library but the next practices being explored, imagined, promoted and celebrated! I never tire of boasting about our library as one of the most vibrant and animated and joyful spaces on campus.”

Jane Leahy ’74: 
“When I retired from teaching, I had accumulated numerous books. Because books are treasures to be shared, I decided to donate 700 books to the Curriculum Library in the Mulva Library. I think it is important for education majors to be able to use physical books to create their lesson plans, and that these books would aid in educating our youth on issues/lessons in the simplest manner.” 

Kristen Vogel (Library): 
“A student said to me shortly after I arrived at St. Norbert: The library is our most important academic resource, outside the faculty. That isMulva Library an honor and a responsibility the library staff relish and embrace. As a relevant and vibrant 21st-century academic library, we foster and champion growth and learning for our entire community – with students always at our forefront. Because we have this exceptional building, we look to the future with confidence and excitement, just as we hope our students and community will.

“Inspired by this 10th anniversary celebration, we’re building toward strategic initiatives we are eager to realize, including: adapting the first floor to more richly foster ideation – the processes of thinking and sharing so that new ideas are created, tested and considered; further developing students’ critical thinking about the information landscape, with eyes to direct peer-research support and faculty fellowships emphasizing information literacy; enhancing and assessing the impact of our collection, especially in the new or expanded areas such as marketing and entrepreneurship resources for the Schneider School of Business & Economics and materials that support the growth of STEM at St. Norbert College.

“Your investment in the Miriam B. & James J. Mulva Library ripples meaningfully throughout the lives of St. Norbert College faculty, students and graduates!” 

President Brian Bruess ’90: 
“[The Mulva Library] has become the most vital and vibrant intersection of scholarship, research, learning, conversation and reflection our campus has ever known. The words of those quoted herein speak precisely to the Mulva Library’s immeasurable impact on St. Norbert College and our community. They highlight the library as world-class; a catalyst for critical thinking; the locus of life-changing experiences; the hub of convening, conversing and celebrating; the elevation and physical embodiment of our college’s mission; a place of transforming and creating, of enabling and empowering all learners; a place – both physical and spiritual – that cultivates study, reflection, prayer, wellness, play and action; and as the unique, invaluable beacon of our college’s heritage and vision.

“Indeed, the Mulva Library has become all of these treasures and more to every member of our community, a place that is both the intellectual hub of our campus and, not surprisingly, the birthplace and growth-place of countless student-mentor relationships. Our gratitude is profound – to every individual who generously made this ‘game-changer structure a reality, as well as those who believe in supporting its future. You’ve given us an opportunity to witness the daily confluence of thinking, acting, reflecting and doing in a place that embodies and ensures the vibrant past, present and future of St. Norbert College.”

"The need for a new library inspired us to help make the dream a reality," say Miriam (Brozyna) ’69 and Jim Mulva. The building that bears their name now encompasses the Mulva Studio space, the Center for Norbertine Studies, the Writing Center, the Resource Library and other student resources. 

"We knew the impact that a library can have on a college campus, as it becomes the academic hub of the college. On Aug. 30, 2009, we could not have imagined the success of this library, which was made possible with great donor support. Thank you for your gift that is still the catalyst for change and growth at St. Norbert even 10 years later. Thank you for believing that this project, this building and this campus could have a profound, positive impact on the thousands of students, faculty and community members who visit each year. Thanks so much."

Sept. 10, 2019