Not only can you read about history at Bainbridge State College’s newly expanded library, you can touch it.

As the country will mark the 50th anniversary on Nov. 22 of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy, the College’s library has the original Life Magazine from Nov. 29, 1963, which covered the assassination of President Kennedy.

Millions of people first learned of the existence of the famous Abraham Zapruder’s 8-mm home-movie of Kennedy’s death in that edition of Life Magazine, which sold for 25 cents then. In it were some of the frame-by-frame photos of Kennedy’s murder.

The College’s library has every Life Magazine in bound volumes dating back to the late 1930s, said Susan Ralph, the director of library. “I am so glad we have this snapshot of history.”

Along with the display of the Kennedy years and the numerous books available for checkout, the library has a collection of Bainbridge State archives as well as Bainbridge Rotary Club’s archives. It also has the digital reel of Bainbridge’s local newspapers since 1869.

More importantly, the library’s expansion had added what the College’s students wanted – more computers, and more space to study and work collaboratively with other students.

The square footage of the library increased from approximately 10,000 to 16,978 earlier this year. There is an additional 1,186 square feet between the library and classrooms intended as a gathering area. The library re-opened on Aug. 19, just two days before the fall semester started.

When asked what a difference the expansion has made, Ralph said, “Just to see how happy the students are, and to see how they are using the library makes all the difference to me. They feel like they were heard and that their needs were met.”

Students had completed surveys expressing interest in more computers and more study rooms and areas they can gather with fellow students.

There are now more than 100 computers in the library – 39 in a large computer lab, 37 in an overflow room that also serves as a classroom and 30 in cubicles within the main area of the library. Along with the computers is a help desk technician, Alex Anderson, who works from a desk in the middle of the library to assist if there are technical issues with any of the computers or printers.

Along the eastern side of the library are new study rooms and gathering areas, including three rooms private rooms with computers where foreign language students can practice French and Spanish using Rosetta Stone, and a soundproof room where students prepare for public speaking assignments. In fact, one of the College’s foreign language instructors does not require her students to purchase textbooks and simply allows them to use the Rosetta Stone labs.

Other amenities of the library are the more than 45,000 books that include a popular reading section of recent The New York Times bestsellers; an audiobook collection; a collection of graphic novels that Ralph said is growing in popularity; and, a children’s book collection that the library staff is trying to encourage students to check out in order to read to their own children.

Another important part of the library is that the public may use it.

“We welcome the public,” Ralph said. Members of the public may check out books, but they are limited to checking out two at a time, and they may use the computers.

Although the library is finished and being fully utilized, there are still several things left to finalize before a formal grand opening is scheduled. For example, there are some furnishings and wall hangings yet to arrive.

“It’s been worth it,” Ralph said the expansion. “The library is now large enough to keep the atmosphere conducive to studying, and students also know they can get help if or when they need it.”


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