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Brookings Register

Aug 30, 2023

Updated: 2 days ago / Posted Jun 7, 2023

Editor's note: This information was compiled by Tom Thaden of the Brookings Historic Preservation Commission.

Named after one of the nation's illustrious presidents and dedicated by President Calvin Coolidge, the new library building at South Dakota State College stands as a memorial to President Abraham Lincoln and has been named "Lincoln Memorial Library."

The new library is located at the southern edge of the campus and faces the main campus proper. The materials used in the construction of the exterior are red brick and Bedford limestone. This combination of materials together with a style of architecture in keeping with a library make the building a beautiful structure. It is planned to meet the needs of the college for many years to come.

"Lincoln Memorial Library" has a beautiful setting south of a little grove of trees that has been dedicated to the memory of State College's World War heroes. On the east of the building is a wide boulevard that is to be the main campus gateway, and on the west is the new sylvan theatre, another memorial structure. The south elevation of the building with its many windows faces Ninth street, which marks the southern border of the campus. On this side of the building are two entrances, one of which will be used for unloading books and library materials.

The main entrance to the building faces north toward the main campus and buildings, and is a modern adaptation of Classical architecture and is particularly pleasing to the building. Above this entrance way are four stone rosettes 1 foot, 3 inches in diameter, and the word "Library" is incised in Roman letters 15 inches high.

The contracts for the library building were let March 31, 1926, and ground for the building was broken on April 19, about three weeks later. The amount of money set aside by the board of regents for construction of the building was $200,000. This amount was provided from the tax levied in South Dakota on cigarettes. The building is therefore the first educational building in the United States to be constructed with funds raised in this manner. Equipment for Lincoln Memorial Library is also to be bought with funds coming from the special cigarette tax.

On the basement floor of the library are three classrooms, spacious corridors, a small exchange book room, an unpacking room, and the stack room. This latter room is used for shelving books. It extends to the second floor and will be divided with metal fixtures to make a three-floor stack room. The natural slope of the ground on which the library is built is taken advantage of in the placement of the windows on the basement floor so that full height windows provide ample light for the class and stack rooms. The stack room is large enough to take care of the needs of the institution for shelving books for many years and for this reason a portion of the room will be partitioned off and used the next few years as a college museum.

As one enters the main entrance to the first floor of the building, its beauty is at once evident. Two kinds of marble, green and brown, have been used in the interior. The woodwork finished in silver grey and brown which together with the rough finished plaster walls, give the interior a delightfully pleasing effect.

Again on this first floor, one is reminded of the fact that Lincoln has played a big part in the beginning of State College. Facing the doorway on this floor is a small alcove where a statue of Lincoln is to be placed. This statue is to be done by Gilbert Riswold, a native of Baltic, SD, who began his art study in the art department at State College. Above the doorways of the corridors that lead to the other rooms of the first floor of Lincoln Memorial Library are two inscriptions:

"The Book, Comrade of Joy, Friend and Aid of the Spirit," reads one of these inscriptions; "The Scholar, Lover of Truth, Diligent in Study, Ripe in Counsel," reads the other.

There are three lecture rooms, four classrooms, an office, and the stack room included the first floor of the building.

On the landing of the stairway that leads to the second floor of the building is a marble alcove with a large window that extends to the top of the second floor that gives a wonderful view of the campus proper. This large window lights up the large delivery room that is located at the top of the stairway.

The most beautiful part of the entire building is undoubtedly this second floor. The delivery room itself is unusual. Here a specially constructed delivery counter, where books from the library will be checked out, is a feature that strikes attention. On the left as one enters the delivery room is a large periodical reading room and from which a large corridor leads to the seminar rooms on the south side of the building. On the right of the delivery room is the librarian's office and the library catalogs. The catalogs will be located conveniently between the delivery room and the cataloging room where the books are received and cataloged.

The large, well-lighted reading room that may be entered through two doors leading south from the delivery room is the outstanding feature of the entire building. Large ornamental plaster pillars that line the walls of this room enhance its beauty. The lighting and ventilation of this room is a special feature. Large skylights provide ample light at any time of day. The light is diffused through two glasses which throw the light to all parts of the room and eliminates shadows. The lighting of the room at night is practically the same as during the day time for the lights are placed overhead and the light is diffused through the skylights in much the same manner as during the daytime. At both ends of the reading room are overhead balconies, one of which is used for shelving rare books and objects of historical interest, while the other is a corridor connecting seven seminar rooms on the south side of the third floor with the rest of the building. The reading room has a high ceiling reaching to the top of the third floor.

On the third floor of the building is a series of seven seminar rooms similar to those on the second floor, fan room in which is located the modern ventilating equipment, and the radio studio where station KFDY will be located as soon as the building is open for use.

Editor's note: