Library donor sees how gift changes student study experience
A quiet study area isn’t high-profile among university projects and it isn’t flashy.
It was, however, the answer then-Student Government Association President Justin Brandt gave President James Ramsey last fall when Ramsey asked how a donor could directly help students.
On Sept. 11, Ramsey, Brandt and others started State of the University day by honoring that donor, alumna Ann Bowling, and dedicating the fourth floor of Ekstrom Library as the Ann ’52 and Jim ’51 Bowling Quiet Study Area.
Since the 1981 opening of Ekstrom Library, the fourth floor had never been updated. It still had the original carpet, much of the original furniture and even furniture that came from the preceding library in Schneider Hall and dated to the 1950s, Ramsey told the group at the dedication.
Over the summer, and in accordance with SGA’s request, crews installed new carpet, study carrels, large and small study tables, chairs, lamps and electrical outlets.
Just a few weeks into the semester, students already appreciate the changes.
“The accessibility, comfort and usefulness of this newly renovated fourth floor is something that all students are noticing and many are already using even though we haven’t reached mid-term,” said current SGA President Carrie Mattingly, who worked on the project as part of Brandt’s administration.
The project was personal for Brandt.
“Ekstrom Library was my home away from home in my first years of college. I would come here to study, hang out with friends. This is where I came to love the University of Louisville. More often than not, I would find students playing territorial games for outlets and uncomfortably shifting in 1980s’ furniture. I felt that was a shame because this is one of the most-trafficked areas on campus,” he said.
“The campus library is the quintessential building where a lot of students go. It’s kind of the image of the university, as it should be, as a place of learning.”
“President Ramsey not only listened to us and said, ‘Oh, yeah. That’s a great idea.’ He went out and made a connection for us and made our goal a possibility,” Brandt said.
Bowling is an ongoing donor to University Libraries, noted libraries Dean Robert Fox, and the fact that she made her gift a challenge gift allowed others to support the renovation, too.
For Bowling, being able to directly benefit students was important, but, she said she is delighted with the connection to former English professor William F. Ekstrom.
“It gives me so much pleasure that it’s in the Ekstrom Library,” Bowling said. “I was fortunate to be a student here when Doc Ekstrom taught. We used to stand in line for hours and fight to get into his classes.”