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History of the Friends

A Brief History of the Friends – September 2011

The Friends organization was officially announced at a special event on April 16, 2010, in the Willouise Donovan Reading Room of Cudahy Library on Loyola’s Lakeshore campus. Featured speakers included Michael J. Garanzini, S.J., President of Loyola University Chicago; Dr. Peter Gilmour, Professor Emeritus, Loyola University Chicago, President of the Friends; and Robert A. Seal, Dean of University Libraries. Following these opening remarks, guests heard two speakers: Thomas J. Michalak, Loyola class of 1962, retired librarian, and collector of rare books and ephemera; and Scott Stantis, editorial cartoonist for the Chicago Tribune. The day also marked the opening of the exhibition, “19th Century British Caricature,” featuring rare materials from the Michalak collection on display in the Donovan Reading Room to be enjoyed by guests during the reception that followed.

The Friends group was suggested by Mr. Seal in 2008, the year Loyola’s new Information Commons was dedicated. The work of planning and implementing that project was completed and Dean Seal moved to his next major priority since arriving at Loyola in the fall of 2005, i.e. establishing a support group for the libraries. Working with University Advancement and members of the Loyola administration, potential Board members were identified, interviewed, and invited to be part of the first advisory group for the organization.

The first Board meeting was held on October 16, 2009, with Professor Emeritus Dr. Peter Gilmour (Institute of Pastoral Studies) serving as the Friends’ first president. Mr. Seal outlined his goals for the organization and solicited ideas for programs and for attracting members. In February 2010, a membership brochure was created for the purpose of describing the Friends organization and soliciting members. Among the benefits promoted were invitations to Friends events, borrowing privileges in the University Libraries (at the $100 level), and access to the Libraries most hours of the day.

Since their inception in 2009, the Friends have been essential to the success of the Loyola University Libraries, providing financial support, offering ideas, and attending programs. The latter includes the Friends of the Libraries Speaker Series, exhibit openings, and fund raisers. The Friends have enthusiastically embraced the goals of raising the visibility of the Loyola Chicago Libraries, providing opportunities to meet with other lovers of libraries and reading, and helping identify potential donors of books and funds.