Category Archives: Fall / Winter 2019-20

Bringing the Best of West to East

A Preview of the Lilly Library Renovation and Expansion

By Aaron Welborn, Director of Communications

Architectural rendering of Lilly Library
A rendering of the new planned west entrance of Lilly Library. Image by Dewing Schmid Kearns Architects and Planners.

Lilly Library, the primary academic support space for first-year students at Duke, is scheduled to be renovated and expanded over the next two years. The renovation promises to transform one of the oldest and most architecturally significant buildings at Duke into a much-needed intellectual and social center of East Campus.

The project has been in the works for years, dating back to a feasibility study in 2015. Since then, a team of library staff and architects have been meeting regularly with various stakeholders to review plans and gather feedback, including faculty based on East Campus, university administrators, and our three student advisory boards.

One unavoidable conclusion from those conversations was that, while Lilly is popular with many library users, it simply doesn’t have room to accommodate the first-year student population any longer.

The building was last touched almost thirty years ago, in 1993, when a partial refresh upgraded computing facilities and increased the book stacks capacity. But overall, the stately Georgian edifice has remained remarkably well-preserved since it opened in 1927. And that’s part of the problem.

Lilly lacks most of the elements of a modern research library. Its outdated building systems and cramped, poorly lit study spaces do not serve researchers well. Many of the library services and spaces today’s students need to succeed are available in Perkins, Bostock, and Rubenstein Libraries on West Campus, but not on East.

The planned expansion will dramatically increase the building’s footprint. When complete, Lilly will be half again as big as it is now (65,670 gross square feet, up from the current 42,000). It will have significantly more seating and offer more collaborative study spaces and technology-equipped project rooms. The project will also update facility needs—including the heating and cooling systems, lighting, technology infrastructure, and furnishings—to meet today’s standards of safety, accessibility, usability, and service.

Updates will also extend to the elegant Thomas, Few, and Carpenter reading rooms. The charm and character of these beloved spaces will be preserved, but their finishes, furnishings, lighting, and technology infrastructure will be enhanced.

Historical photograph of Lilly Library under construction, 1926
Lilly Library under construction in 1926. Image from University Archives.

One of the most dramatic new features is the addition of a second entrance on the west side of the building. Enter the library from that side and you will find yourself in a café-like commons filled with natural light—just the kind of cozy gathering space currently lacking on East Campus.

To accomplish this vision, the Libraries are working with architectural firm Dewing Schmid Kearns. Construction is expected to begin in summer 2020, with the library reopening after 18 to 24 months. In the meantime, library staff are working to relocate materials, services, and personnel. Although the building will be closed, Lilly collection materials will continue be available to students and researchers throughout the project.

The total cost of the renovation and expansion is anticipated to be $47 million, which will largely be funded through philanthropy.

In what follows, we want to share some of the exciting changes in store. We think—and we hope you’ll agree—that the design preserves the intimacy and charm that generations of Blue Devils have always loved about Lilly, while adding modern conveniences and spaces that will dramatically improve the student experience at Duke for generations to come.


1. Gallery

One of the first changes you will notice walking into the renovated Lilly Library is that the big circulation desk and computer terminals in the main lobby are gone. In their place is a spacious, light-filled gallery, featuring artwork and inviting benches, with a second-story balcony connecting the building’s two wings.

Rendering of Lilly Library Gallery
A rendering of the gallery that will greet you as you enter Lilly Library from the East Campus quad.

2. Booklover’s Room

The first librarian of Duke’s Woman’s College Library, Lillian Baker Griggs, believed that a college library should promote “the love of books and libraries in the heart of the average student to such an extent that a library will be necessary to a contented life.” To that end she made the library an inviting place, starting with the popular Booklover’s Room, a comfy spot for casual reading furnished like an elegant living room. The new Lilly Library will bring back the Booklover’s Room, featuring new and popular books in a warmly furnished and relaxed atmosphere.

Rendering of Booklover's Room
A rendering of the Booklover’s Room, a comfy spot for casual reading.

3. Writing Studio

One of the busiest spots in Perkins Library on West Campus is the Thompson Writing Program’s Writing Studio, a dedicated space where students can meet with tutors and improve their writing skills. The same tutorial service is also available in Lilly Library, but it’s confined to a small table with two chairs on a hard-to-find landing in the stacks. The renovated Lilly will feature a greatly expanded Writing Studio near the main entrance, similar to the one at Perkins.

4. Carpenter Reading Room

Fans and devotees of Lilly Library will be happy to hear little is changing about the handsome Carpenter Reading Room. Ditto its mirror-image, the Few Reading Room, on the opposite side of the floor. These capacious and inspiring study spaces will appear much as they do today, with updated furnishings and finishes.

Rendering of Carpenter Reading Room
Not much will change about the beloved Carpenter and Few Reading Rooms, although they will get updated furnishings and finishes.

5. Assembly Space

Lilly has always sadly lacked a space for public events and programs. The renovated library will feature an assembly space on the main level, an easy-to-find venue for workshops, lectures, book talks, symposia, music performances, award ceremonies, and other library events.

6. New West Entrance and Commons

An added entrance on the west side of the building faces the bustling residential “backyard” of East Campus and connects the library with a main pedestrian throughway. Inside, a new café-like commons promises to become the crossroads for East Campus that the von der Heyden Pavilion is for West, a place where students and faculty can meet over coffee and snacks.

Rendering of Lilly Library Commons
One of the most dramatic new features is the addition of a new entrance on the west side of the building, leading to a cafe-like commons.



1. Thomas Room

The picturesque Thomas Room has long been a favorite quiet study spot. The room is decorated with Asian works of art donated by the family and friends of James A. Thomas, a tobacco merchant, Duke trustee, and personal friend and business partner of the Duke family. The renovation will preserve the historical charm and character of the room, while updating the furnishings, lighting, and finishes.

Thomas Room, Lilly Library
The elegant Thomas Room, whose historical charm and character will be preserved.

2. Innovation Co-Lab

Staffed by Duke’s Office of Information Technology, the Innovation Co-Lab is a maker-space and creativity incubator, where students can work hands-on with new and old technologies, including fifteen 3D printers, a 3D scanner, hand tools, electronics, and even a sewing machine. The Co-Lab will move upstairs from its current home on Lilly’s first floor.

3D Printers
3D printers in the Innovation Co-Lab in Lilly Library, which will move upstairs to the second floor.

3. Testing Center

Learning at Duke can be demanding—even more so if you are a student with a learning or attention challenge. A new testing center, designed in collaboration with Duke’s Academic Resource Center, will offer a secure and convenient testing environment for undergraduate students registered with the Student Disability Access Office who have been granted testing accommodations.

4. Open Reading Room

A new open reading room will combine collaborative work space with traditional private study, surrounded by floor-to-ceiling windows and exposed brick, offering a more modern counterpart to the historic Thomas, Carpenter, and Few reading rooms. The room also features four new group studies.

Rendering of Open Reading Room
A rendering of the new open reading room on the second floor.

5. Seminar/Screening Room

Lilly is home to Duke’s extensive film and video collection. Multidisciplinary and international in scope, the collection supports teaching and research on Duke’s campus across disciplines and departments. This seminar room will double as a screening room, with black-out curtains and projection equipment for screening films for classes and events.



1. High-Density Mobile Shelving

Library collections grow larger every year, but library buildings do not. The majority of Lilly’s physical collections will be housed on the Lower Level in high-density mobile shelving. This not only allows us to store more books and materials in less space, but creates more study and work space throughout the building for library users.

High-Density Shelving
High-density shelves, like these used in the Rubenstein Library, will allow us to store more materials in less space.

2. Group Study Spaces

Unlike Perkins, Bostock, and Rubenstein Libraries on West Campus, Lilly Library currently has no collaborative group study spaces, and only one reservable room. The plans for the renovation include twelve new group studies, half of which are on the Lower Level.

3. Multimedia Viewing and Open Collaboration Space

Multimedia viewing stations, equipped with a variety of players, will allow students and faculty to watch movies from Lilly’s extensive film and video collections. Players for legacy formats—including laser disc, U-matic, and even 16mm film—will also be available upon request.

4. Prayer/Meditation and Lactation Rooms

Several years ago, in response to student requests, we set aside a small room in Perkins Library for prayer and meditation, open to members of all faiths. Frequent and regular usage of the space convinced us to do the same at Lilly. The renovated library will also feature a reservable lactation room (one of only two on East Campus) to support women balancing their return to work or school with their needs as mothers of young children.


Consumer Reports Archives Come to Duke

Collection Chronicles Social, Cultural, and Historical Impact Over 80 Years

By Aaron Welborn, Director of Communications


Photo of instant coffee taste test, 1951.
Taste test comparing instant coffee brands (Consumer Reports photo, 1951).

The David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library at Duke University has acquired the archives of Consumer Reports (CR), the mission-driven nonprofit consumer organization, committed to creating a fair, safe, and transparent marketplace for consumers.

The massive collection—which spans some 2,800 linear feet and required two tractor trailers to transport to Durham from CR’s headquarters in Yonkers, New York—includes archival materials, books, photographs, and artifacts documenting the history of the organization from its founding during the Great Depression to its eventual prominence as a household name for safety, reliability, and informed decision-making.

October 2019 cover of Consumer Reports
The October 2019 issue of Consumer Reports magazine.

As the collection reveals, that reputation was long and hard in the making. “Even many longtime Consumer Reports members would likely be surprised by the organization’s colorful and controversial history,” said Jacqueline Reid Wachholz, director of the Rubenstein Library’s Hartman Center for Sales, Advertising, and Marketing History, where the collection will formally reside.

It began in February 1936, when a group of journalists, academics, engineers, and labor leaders founded Consumers Union, a membership organization dedicated to scientifically testing common products and services, educating the public, and aiding consumers “in their struggle as workers, to get an honest wage.”

Three months after the organization formed, the first issue of Consumers Union Reports appeared, featuring articles on breakfast cereals, Alka-Seltzer, toilet soaps, stockings, milk, toothbrushes, lead in toys, and credit unions.

Volume 1 Issue 1 of Consumers Union Reports
Where it all started: Volume 1, Issue 1 of Consumers Union Reports, May 1936.

From a few thousand initial members, the magazine quickly grew to a circulation of 37,000 by the end of its first year, and 85,000 by 1939. Its rapid success was notable, given the opposition from the business community and the commercial press, which viewed the publication and the fledgling consumer movement it represented as a radical threat to corporate interests.

More than sixty newspapers and magazines, including the New York Times, refused to sell advertising to Consumers Union, on the basis that consumer product testing represented “an unfair and subversive attack upon legitimate advertising,” according to Norman Silber in his authoritative history of Consumers Union, Test and Protest (1983).

During the organization’s early days, it advocated on behalf of unionized workers who produced the kinds of products featured in its pages. “By reporting on labor conditions under which consumer products are produced,” wrote the magazine’s editors in the inaugural issue, “Consumers Union hopes to add what pressure it can to fight for higher wages and for unionization and the collective bargaining which are labor’s bulwark against declining standards of living.”

Toothbrush tester
The collection includes a variety of original testing equipment designed and used by Consumer Reports scientists, like this toothbrush tester with false teeth (date unknown).

Such statements earned Consumers Union the ire of powerful corporate interests and politicians, who branded it as “anti-capitalist” and even communist. From 1944 to 1954, Consumers Union was actually blacklisted as a subversive organization by the House Un-American Activities Committee, a charge that was only lifted after years of legal protests. The organization’s leadership, including economist Colston Warne and engineer Arthur Kallet (both of whose papers are included in the collection), suffered similar character attacks for their outspoken support of product safety standards, government regulations, and other measures—largely uncontroversial today—that put consumer interests over corporate profits.

Eventually, the magazine’s editorial emphasis shifted towards more scientific testing and trusted consumer guidance. Its refusal to accept paid advertising, or free samples from manufacturers, bolstered the publication’s claim to independence, nonpartisanship, and credibility. The magazine’s member base continued to grow, especially during the prosperous postwar era, when consumer spending boosted the economy and a growing middle class was hungry for advice on what to buy.

Today, Consumer Reports reviews approximately 2,500 products and services across more than one hundred categories, and it reaches tens of millions of people through print, digital, and broadcast media, which includes the network television series Consumer 101 on NBC and Taller del Consumidor on Telemundo.

Testing TVs then (1961) and now (2019). Images courtesy of Consumer Reports.

In addition to its consumer research, product testing, and investigative journalism, Consumer Reports leads far-reaching policy and advocacy initiatives, working to secure pro-consumer policies in government and across industries. Over the course of its history, the organization has played an influential role in championing pro-consumer protections and rights in the automobile, food, healthcare, and financial services industries, as well as the creation of several government safety commissions.

In 1953, Consumer Reports was the first publication to warn consumers about the dangers of cigarettes. Its research and reporting eventually led the U.S. Surgeon General’s landmark report on smoking in 1964. The organization’s advocacy efforts were also instrumental in the U.S. government mandating seat belts in all automobiles (1968), stricter standards for child safety seats (1981), and a ban on the chemical Bisphenol-A (BPA) in baby bottles and sippy cups (2012). In 2010, Consumer Reports played a significant role in mobilizing congressional support for the creation of the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, among other regulatory measures it has championed.

In its new home in Duke’s Rubenstein Library, the Consumer Reports archive complements existing collection strengths, including the Hartman Center—home to the largest collection of materials on the history of advertising and marketing in the U.S.—and the Economists’ Papers Archive, which holds the papers of more than sixty significant economists.

Buying Guides
Consumer Reports is well-known for its flagship magazine and buying guides, but the collection also includes thousands of guides and pamphlets on special topics issued over the decades.

“In our current modern society, where trust in institutions and the marketplace have eroded, the legacy and mission of Consumer Reports have never been more relevant,” said Marta L. Tellado, President and CEO of Consumer Reports. “The rich social, cultural, and historical impact of CR is essential to share not because it belongs to the past, but because it is as urgent today as it has ever been—at a moment when the stakes could not be higher for consumers, and when we must fight even harder to keep the market honest.”

The collection has already attracted the interest of researchers and Duke faculty. “Through the acquisition of this remarkable archive,” noted Duke Vice Provost and historian Edward Balleisen, “we have further solidified the Rubenstein Library’s status as a pivotal repository for the study of modern American capitalism. For historians and other social scientists who wish to research or teach about economic life during the American century, the Consumer Reports collection will beckon as an essential source of evidence about technological change, consumer culture, business-state relations, the evolving dynamics of consumer protection, and non-governmental arbiters of quality and value.”

It will take approximately three to four years to catalog the archives, the majority of which will be open to researchers.

Mark Their Words

Celebrating Our Research and Writing Prize Winners

By Mikaela Johnson

Every year the Duke University Libraries run a series of essay contests recognizing the original research of Duke students and encouraging the use of library resources. These awards include the Lowell Aptman Prizes, for use of the general library collections and services; the Ole R. Holsti Prize, for excellence in the field of political science and public policy research; the Chester P. Middlesworth Award, for research using the primary sources and rare materials held in the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library; and the Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award, for an outstanding work of creative writing. Winners of these awards receive cash prizes of $1,000 or $1,500 as well as recognition at a reception during Duke’s Family Weekend. This year we wanted to highlight a few of our winners and ask what they planned to do with their winnings.

Jessica Chen

Jessica Chen, a winner of the Lowell Aptman Prize, had a central research question, asking how different communities that face barriers from higher housing rates in the Lower East Side of New York intersect, and how one represents that intersection in art. As an art history major, Jessica was able to further her studies by visiting art galleries in New York that represent these communities. Her research confronting the history of ghettos in New York also allowed her to explore different fields of study – such as urban policy – while reading historical 1920s newspapers provided by the library. Her research resulted in her paper “Post-Modern Folk Chronicler.” Jessica says that she plans to use the prize money to “finally organize [her] life by buying an iPad and Apple pen for note-taking.”

Blaire Zhang (right) with librarian Arianne Hartsell-Gundy

Blaire Zhang might not fit the profile of the typical student who wins the William Rosati Creative Writing Award. She’s a computer science major. Her paper, “Sapiens,” was actually the first creative writing assignment she ever had at Duke, and she managed to have it recognized as one of the top creative writing assignments out of all the undergraduates last semester. The intersection of Blaire’s abilities won’t stop with this award, however. She plans to use the prize money in order to create a digital visualization of her writing.

Jack Bradford (right) with Professor of English Tom Ferraro

Jack Bradford received the Lowell Aptman prize for his honors thesis, “Errand into the Water Closet: Scat and the Making of the American Modernist Novel.” Jack dug his nose into the portrayal of feces in six different novels from the 1920s-1930s. He explains that one can use scatology to view race, gender, and religion throughout these novels. “The modernist novel became the vehicle through which I synthesized an eclectic bibliographical dung heap into a systematic theoretical paradigm,” he quipped.


Valerie Muensterman

Valerie Muensterman’s name might sound familiar. This is now Valerie’s third time to be a recipient of our Rosati Award. Valerie, who studies English and Theater Studies, is a playwright. Last year, when she won for a collection of plays, she told us that she hoped the prize money would provide the opportunity to explore her passion. And that she did! But this time she used her skills to write “Did You Forget Your Name?” a screenplay about a stuttering female protagonist, borrowing from the experiences of her older sister. She uses the protagonist to bring forward her central theme: waiting. While accepting her award, she explained that just as she learned to wait through her sister’s speech, perhaps the slower speech of the protagonist can teach us that we must wait for the most critical moments in life.

Mikaela Johnson (T’20) is an English major and student worker in the Library Development and Communications department.

Complete List of This Year’s Winners

Lowell Aptman Prize
Recognizing excellence in undergraduate research using sources from the Libraries’ general collections

  • First/Second-Year: Veronica Niamba for “The Day Man Stood Still,” nominated by Gray Kidd
  • Third/Fourth-Year: Jessica Chen for “Post-Modern Folk Chronicler,” nominated by Dr. Paul Jaskot
  • Honors Thesis: Jack Bradford for “Errand into the Water Closet,” nominated by Dr. Tom Ferraro

Chester P. Middlesworth Award
Recognizing excellence of analysis, research, and writing in the use of primary sources and rare materials held by the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library

  • Undergraduate: Sierra Lorenzini for “Fair Haired: Considering Blonde Women in Film and Advertising,” nominated by Dr. Kristine Stiles
  • Graduate: Michael Freeman for “P. Duke Inv. 664R: A Fragmentary Alchemical Handbook,” nominated by Dr. Jennifer Knust

Ole R. Holsti Prize
Recognizing excellence in undergraduate research using primary sources for political science and public policy

  • Amanda Sear for “To Smoke or to Vape? E-cigarette Regulation in the US, the UK, and Canada,” nominated by Dr. Ed Balleisen
  • Yue Zhou for “Learning Languages in Cyberspace: A Case Study of World Languages Courses in State Virtual Public Schools,” nominated by Dr. Leslie Babinski

Rudolph William Rosati Creative Writing Award
Recognizing outstanding undergraduate creative writing

  • Valerie Muensterman for “Did You Forget Your Name?”
  • Caroline Waring for “The Roof”
  • Blaire Zhang for “Sapiens”