Walsh Libraries: 25 Years of Learning

The idea for Walsh Library first arose in the 1990 strategic plan initiated by the University Chancellor, Very Rev. Thomas R. Peterson, which charged the Seton Hall University Board of Trustees to construct a state-of-the-art facility that would cover three essential criteria: “efficiency, to expedite use; congeniality, to promote productive scholarship; and flexibility, to keep pace with changing circumstances.”  The main benefactors of the library were Raymond Chambers (MBA ’68) and Frank Walsh (SHU Prep ’59).
“Seton Hall needs a new library and she needs it now.  It must be her star, the jewel of her campus.  This beacon of intellectual commitment needed to guide us as lovers of learning must be built – and it shall be.”  (Very Reverend Thomas R. Peterson, O.P. University Chancellor, 1990)

The dedication ceremony for Walsh Library took place as part of the annual University Day ceremonies held on October 1, 1994.  The day began with the passing of designated books along a chain comprised of various members of the University community.  The last volume to pass from the stacks of McLaughlin to the newly installed shelves in Walsh Library was a special silver-plated copy of the Sacramentary Lectionary.  Several hundred guests gathered to celebrate the official opening of this new center of knowledge.

“As Architecture, the library aspires to celebrate its role as repository for the accumulated knowledge and accomplishments of humankind.  As a member of the campus community, the library reflects and enhances the campus, giving form to the ideals and notions of the University as an accessible center of learning and academic investigation.”(“A Visionary Plan for the New Libraries” – The New Seton Hall University Library, 1994)

Over the past twenty-five years, the library has grown from an institution where researchers came to find materials to an institution where researchers increasingly conduct all stages of their research in the digital sphere.  The physical space of the library has taken on increasing importance as a place to collaborate or find space to work in solitude, to learn new techniques of research and presentation, and to find support in navigating the academic journey. 

“Under Chancellor Peterson, the library was envisioned as a type of Roman cathedral, “the jewel of the campus.”’  A jewel never changes.  But as humans learn, they change the buildings they inhabit to suit their needs.  And so Walsh Library has changed from a place of quiet study to a place of lively academic discussion and socialization.” (Richard Stern, Reference Librarian, 1983-2016, Acting Dean 2002-2004)