When Middlebury's main library opened six years ago, it transformed research and study at the College. Everything students and faculty needed for their personal or educational inquiry was readily available: places to work with others or to be quiet and work alone, hundreds of thousands of books and periodicals, cutting-edge technological tools and multimedia facilities, electronic access to the information universe, smart classrooms, and extensive support services. In short, the library became the heart of the College and the hub of campus life.

Yet since it opened in 2004, the library had not had a name befitting its central role on campus. That deficit was remedied on May 6, when the library was named for longtime supporter Jim Davis ’66; his wife, Anne; their son, Chris ’08; and their daughter, Kassia.

The Unveiling

“We are about to do something that we have wanted to do for a long time: that is, publicly recognize an alumnus and his family to whom the college owes an enormous debt of gratitude for wise counsel, enthusiastic encouragement, and unparalleled financial support,” President Ronald D. Liebowitz said in remarks delivered at the ceremony in the library atrium. “Indeed, it would be hard to overstate the importance of this alumnus’s service to the college and the impact of the family’s philanthropy. They have truly had a transformative effect on Middlebury,”

Liebowitz then revealed the Davis name, and the letters spelling out "Davis Family Library" below the library mural in the atrium were unveiled.

To learn more about the ceremony and about Jim Davis, read the Public Affairs news story.

Why the Library Matters in the Digital Age

At a panel earlier in the day, five faculty and staff members discussed what architectural planners sought to achieve, the library's importance in our era of digital communications, and its role in teaching and learning.

  • Glenn Andres, C.A. Johnson Professor of Art and Director of the Arts. Read Professor Andres's remarks about the design of the library.
  • Anne Kelly Knowles, Associate Professor of Geography
  • Paul Monod, A. Hepburn Professor of History
  • Alexander Manshel '09, Digital-Media Graduate Intern
  • Michael Roy, L. Douglas and Laura J. Meredith Dean of Library and Information Services
Watch an audio slideshow about how three students use the library, created by Alexander Manshel ’09. Photos by Brett Simison
History of the Library

Middlebury's founders established a library months before the College opened its doors, in 1800, because they recognized a library's fundamental importance to higher education. By selling library subscriptions for $25 each, they raised the funds to purchase books. By 1810, Middlebury's collection totaled 500 volumes.

During the College's first century, the library moved to successively larger quarters several times. The first dedicated building, Starr Library, was built in 1900 with funds bequeathed by Egbert Starr. Enlargements to Starr Library occurred at roughly 25-year intervals to accommodate increased use and growing collections.

As the function of the library evolved from a facility that archived and loaned books to a gateway leading to information in all forms, Middlebury sought to design and build a facility that would accommodate the College's growing collections well in to the 21st century, respond to the changing information needs of students and faculty, and artfully integrate a technologically advanced building into the life and landscape of the campus and town.

The new, 143,000-square-foot, three-story library, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates of New York City, opened in 2004.