Community (n): Society, the public, the people, village, neighborhood, kinship, convergence.
No matter how you define community, the new community room in the Central Library fits the bill. Open since January, it has already hosted thousands of people for lectures, receptions and meetings.
Highlights from its first months include a speech by former U.S. Rep. Pat Schroeder and a panel discussion with three Vanderbilt alumni who have authored books focused on the civil rights movement. John Seigenthaler, founder of the First Amendment Center, chairman emeritus of The Tennessean and host of Nashville Public Television’s A Word on Words, moderated the panel.
“Traditionally, libraries have been magnets that draw people from all segments of the community for research and reading, of course, but for literary discourse and dialogue as well,” said Seigenthaler, who served in the early 1960s as an administrative assistant to then-Attorney General Robert F. Kennedy and acted as the chief negotiator with the governor of Alabama. “I envision that the community room at the library will be that sort of magnet and will attract people from all over the Nashville area who will reflect the remarkable diversity of our region.”
A Board of Trust committee meeting met in the community room this fall. Last spring, the boards of the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries and the Vanderbilt Alumni Association met in Vanderbilt’s libraries for the first time.
“What a great space,” said James Stofan, associate vice chancellor for alumni relations. “The acoustics of the community room are outstanding, the technology available is of the highest quality and the space itself allows for outside light. The ambience was perfect for our business meeting as well as for our reception at the end of the day.”
“In the community that is Vanderbilt and Nashville, we need more places to come together to learn and exchange ideas,” said Dean of Libraries Connie Vinita Dowell. “I want our students to hear the voices of poets and authors in their libraries and for our staff to host the nation’s library leaders so we can become even better at what we do. We are so grateful to now be able to co-sponsor lectures and events with colleagues across campus.”
photo credit: Joe Howell