SBU Breaks Ground for Library Addition

HNP Communications Features

ALLEGANY, N.Y. – Ground was broken for the new Paul and Irene Bogoni Rare Books Addition to Friedsam Memorial Library June 19 at St. Bonaventure University.

A $2 million gift from the Paul and Irene Bogoni Foundation is making this exciting and much-needed project possible. The Bogonis were on site to dig the first symbolic hole for the addition where the rare books will be housed. Scholars from the National Endowment for the Humanities described St. Bonaventure’s collection as “a unique national asset of great value to American humanistic scholarship.”

The University’s Rare Books Collection contains treasures gathered over more than a century. They include the most important collection of Franciscana in North America, more than 9,000 rare books and manuscripts dating from the 12th century up to and including the seminal journals of renowned monastic Thomas Merton, who taught English at St. Bonaventure in the early 1940s. Collections from various provincial and college libraries were also entrusted to St. Bonaventure when those institutions closed.

The collection includes such treasures as an 18-foot vellum scroll recounting biblical history from the time of Adam to that of Christ and the Apostles, hand-lettered and drawn by a Franciscan friar in the form of a genealogical tree, as well as hand-lettered commentaries and psalters and early printed books.

The library expansion will protect this stunning collection with state-of-the-art mechanical, electrical, security and fire suppression systems. The design also provides the required vault storage space incorporating high-density shelving to maximize floor space and efficiency.

The design of the addition, rather than replicating the existing structure, will complement both the original library and the 1970s addition with an assemblage of materials and textures.

The terra cotta roofing that for decades has helped distinguish the St. Bonaventure campus will be incorporated into the design, with high-performance glass offering a way to safely open the reading rooms and common areas to beautiful southerly views and to integrate with the glass and brick of the 1970s addition.

The addition will be set back from the main north facade, providing an outdoor contemplative garden area. At night, the glass walkway surrounding the inner building core will be lighted, highlighting the unique collection contained inside.