Couldn’t Have Said It Better

We recently asked some of the newest members of our Library Advisory Board to express in their own words why the Duke University Libraries are personally important to them and worthy of support. Here’s what they said.

When I was in third grade, I made it my goal to read every book in my small town’s public library. However, after I finished binging my way through Nancy Drew, The Hardy Boys, and The Bobbsey Twins, I ventured beyond the basement level children’s floor and was completely disheartened to discover additional floors with an unfathomable number of books—most of which were not about adolescent crime solvers. Despite that setback, I did not let the revelation that I would never be able to read all the books in a library get in the way of my love of libraries. As a student, my appreciation of libraries was focused on research materials and suitable study locations. As a Duke undergraduate, Perkins Library was an integral part of my life. I studied with friends in the Gothic Reading Room, often retreating to the stacks when real grinding was necessary.

It has been both an honor and a natural progression of my love of libraries to join the Duke Library Advisory Board. Just like my third-grade revelation, I have been awestruck by the complexity, enormity, and sheer quality and quantity of the resources of the Duke Libraries. Duke’s world-class libraries, including Perkins, Bostock, Rubenstein and the soon-to-be renovated Lilly Library, have over 8 million volumes in their collection, almost 3 million e-books, and hundreds of thousands of e-journals. That’s a real inspiration for all bibliophiles.

– Karen Christensen Shaffer T‘89

Over three generations, my family has logged countless hours in Duke’s libraries. While there are parts of the Libraries that are timeless, the experience for each generation differed from that of the generation before. Libraries need to be fluid and evolving, both in what they offer and in the surroundings that they provide. By supporting Duke Libraries both financially and with my input on the Library Advisory Board, I hope to help ensure the vibrancy of Duke’s libraries for future generations.

– Ellen von der Heyden Gillespie T’87

The Duke Libraries were always a special place on campus during my time at Duke. Far beyond just a place to find a book and do research, the Libraries are the heart and hub of Duke student campus life. Whether meeting friends for a study group or catching up over coffee at von der Heyden, the Libraries were that place where I spent so much of my time outside of class. So when trying to figure out how to get more involved in Duke, I loved the idea of being part of the Library Advisory Board. Learning how the faculty and staff work with the entire university to make this place grow and continue to be at the center of student life has been so interesting and rewarding, especially as I’ve seen the Lilly Library renovation process unfold. On top of that, the board is a very interesting and eclectic group of people who just love Duke—like myself!

– Katie Witten T’08

While working on my book on the racial history of Duke in the Sixties, I spent countless hours in the Duke University Archives. I saw that capturing the complex story I wanted to tell would have been impossible if not for the passion and commitment of University Archives staff over the decades. I joined the Library Advisory Board because the Libraries are at the center of Duke’s ongoing anti-racism work. The Libraries are deeply committed to this work, and I love the opportunity the LAB gives me to support those efforts.

– Theodore D. Segal T’77