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Milligan library seeking one million pennies for renovation efforts

Elizabethton Star

The P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library on the campus of Milligan College is currently seeking donations from students, faculty, alumni and the public to fund renovation efforts. “The Million Pennies Campaign” is an ongoing project to secure the necessary capital to pay for needed improvements to several areas of the library.

Photo by Jason Mullins – The Welshimer Memorial Library at Milligan College is continuing their “Million Pennies Campaign” to raise the necessary capital for facility renovations. The library is attempting to raise $10,000 for improvements to the windows, HVAC unit and other areas of the building. Library staff, including Library Services Director Gary Daught (pictured left) and User Services Librarian Jeff Harbin, participated in the library’s annual homecoming book sale to help raise funds to benefit the capital improvement project.

Gary Daught is the Director of Library Services at Milligan College. He says the idea was developed as a grassroots effort for library patrons to participate in the capital campaign fundraiser.

Daught comments that the project will give students the chance to build ownership in the library. “We put it out to the students that if they helped us raise $10,000 for library renovation, they could collectively help name a room in the library,” says Daught. He adds that if the student body is successful, they will be given the opportunity to name one of the spaces at the library, including one of the group study rooms.

If the goal is reached, Daught says students could choose the name of a person, a place or a thing on which to bestow the honor. He joked, “It’s a little bit of a risk, but we’re trying to take this as seriously as possible. Even if the name was somewhat humorous, we would still be open to that.”

The million pennies campaign began in June of 2010. As of this month, the library has been able to raise approximately one-third of the $10,000 goal. The Milligan library has utilized several projects to reach the mark, including book sales. Over homecoming weekend, the Welshimer Library staff and student workers sponsored their fourth annual book sale. The staff spent several weeks examining their inventory of books and other media sources to find items for the annual sale. The proceeds from the last two book sales have gone to the capital campaign.

Students and other library visitors have also been given the chance to donate their spare change to the project. Daught says a collection container has been placed at the front desk of the library to drop off pocket change.

Daught notes “The $3,300 we have raised has almost been entirely raised by pocket change from the students and the last two book sales.”

The P.H. Welshimer Memorial Library is celebrating its 50th anniversary of service to Milligan College this weekend. Daught says the library was dedicated on Nov. 24, 1961 and has been a landmark and gathering place throughout the lifetime of the facility.

“It’s a wonderful structure. It was well-built. In fact, for the times, it was exquisitely built. The actual brick shell of the building will probably last forever, but we have old windows, a heating and air conditioning system that needs to be replaced, duct work and electrical aspects that can be improved,” Daught adds.

The library also lacks an elevator to make the second floor accessible to handicapped and disabled patrons. Once the library reaches the $10,000 plateau, Daught says the library will use the money to fund updates to these areas of need at the facility.

Milligan President Dr. Bill Greer, along with other senior members of the administration, are currently acting as advocates for the library’s capital campaign. Daught says the college development office is also assisting in the goal. “We just haven’t reached that point of critical mass of funding to move forward with the project,” says Daught.

Daught argues the renovations to the library will be an important aspect of the continued success of the facility. He says that the library’s usage over the last four years has risen by as much as 100 percent. “We’re seeing a dramatic uptake in the use of the library. Part of that is due to enrollment increases, but from a percentage point-of-view, the usage has outstripped that by a wide margin,” Daught comments.

Daught also points to a change in the philosophy of library sciences over the last decade as another reason for the increase. “You may recall libraries of an earlier time where users had to be completely quiet, they couldn’t eat or drink and they had to abide by all sorts of rules and barriers. The good intentions of that were to protect the collection and the library environment. Those were good things, but the modern library is more sensitive to changes in the needs of the user than ever before,” Daught says.

By removing book shelves, Milligan’s library has been able to open more space in several areas of the building. Daught says the staff has worked diligently to make the library more inviting to the students. “Even if it’s something as simple as placing rugs on the floor or providing more comfortable seating, those things help make our patrons feel more welcome and more comfortable during their visit,” says Daught.

The library director says Milligan’s facility has strived to create an environment based on the changing needs of its users. Daught says they have also increased access to electronic research sources, including a new Internet-based search engine entitled MC Search. Daught notes the online resource “is essentially Google applied to the library’s resources that we make available to our users.” MC Search was launched at the beginning of the fall semester.

Despite the influx of new technologies, including electronic readers such as the Nook and the Kindle, Daught believes there will always be a need for libraries. He believes paper books may become less used over the next decade, but “the spaces and the resources of the library will continue to change with the new technologies to respond to the needs of our users.”



MILLIGAN UNIVERSITY is a Christian liberal arts university in Northeast Tennessee whose vision is to change lives and shape culture through a commitment to servant leadership. The university offers more than 100 majors, minors, pre-professional degrees and concentrations in a variety of fields, along with graduate and adult degree completion programs.  To learn more about Milligan University, visit www.milligan.edu or call 800-262-8337.

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