UVa Library Press Releases
Alderman Library's historic McGregor room will be restored to full grandeur as a student reading-room
When the University of Virginia's renowned collection of rare books and manuscripts moves into a new Special Collections Library next year, the magnificent wood-paneled reading-room and exhibit hall that has been one of the splendors of Alderman Library for more than six decades won't be abandoned.
The historic Tracy W. McGregor Room, which has drawn thousands of visitors from around the world and hosted lectures by such writers as William Faulkner and W.H. Auden, will be restored and re-furnished as an elegant reading room, open to all students, library officials have announced. A new lecture series in the renovated room is also a part of the grant.
Thanks to a $200,000 grant from the McGregor Fund, a Detroit-based private foundation, "we will have the opportunity to restore the McGregor Room to its former use as a quiet space for reading and reflection," said University Librarian Karin Wittenborg. "Students tell us that, while they greatly appreciate computer labs and coffee shops, there is a clear need for quiet, comfortable reading spaces."
Already one of the most pleasant reading-rooms in any American library, the restored room will feature "a rare mixture of warmth and grandeur," said Karen Marshall, Alderman Library's director of humanities and social science services. "We will create a common room not unlike those of the colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, where often the most important collaborative work takes place" among faculty and students. The library intends to put attractive books in the wall-to-ceiling bookcases, unshutter the large windows, refinish the floors, and add new carpets, tables, lamps, chairs and draperies. In addition, a $50,000 portion of the grant will create a library lecture series named for Tracy and Katherine McGregor.
The renovation will probably begin in the fall of 2004. Unshuttering the high windows will open a view to the University Chapel. "Students are going to like it," Marshall said.
Meanwhile the Tracy W. McGregor Library of American History, a cornerstone of the University's world-class collections of rare books and manuscripts, will move to a new special collections facility, the Albert and Shirley Small Special Collections Library, due to be completed in the fall of 2004.
McGregor, who died in 1936, was one of Detroit's most influential civic leaders. A philanthropist and collector of rare books, he donated his collection of rare and important American materials to Alderman Library when he died. The gift was a major addition to the library's stature. The McGregor Room in the then-new Alderman Library was furnished with a gift from the foundation. In the 1990s, the McGregor Fund provided an endowment for new acquisitions to the collection. "The new grant to restore the reading room continues the tradition of support for which we are very grateful," concluded Wittenborg.