Ribbon cutting celebrates Sojourner Truth Library reopening

STL RibbonA day-long celebration at SUNY New Paltz’s Sojourner Truth Library marked the completion of an extensive $14.3 million project to upgrade the Library, which has been underway since early planning began in 2009.

Many of the key figures involved in executing the renovation project, including campus officials and Library staff, state policymakers and representatives of architectural and contracting firms, joined together on April 21 for a ribbon cutting ceremony in honor of the completion of the Library’s Main Floor.

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“Students have been enjoying this wonderful space since January, and this ribbon cutting ceremony is a celebration of the great collective achievement of this renovation project,” said President Donald P. Christian. “This project had more than 40 subcontractors, including many from the Hudson Valley and nearly all from New York State, and generated about 100 construction jobs with a couple dozen supervisory personnel. It stands as a testament to the significant impact of the College on the local economy. To all who contributed, thank you for your great work on this positive addition to our campus.”

The new Main Floor is equipped with state-of-the-art technologies and expanded learning and collaboration spaces, as well as aesthetic improvements that open up the room to natural light and enhance its views of the nearby Shawangunk Ridge.

“Sojourner Truth Library is one of the most important buildings on campus, the building every student is assigned to, regardless of major or discipline,” said alumnus and New York State Assemblymember Kevin Cahill ’77 (Political Science). “It is the place where those of us who could not afford every textbook could come and use a book on reserve. As a commuter student living in a nearby community, it was the Library that enabled me to be ambitious in my research.”

Cahill’s sentiments were echoed by New Paltz student Sam Manzella ’18 (Journalism).

“As a reference assistant at the Library and as a student, I’ve felt the excitement of exploring the new spaces and having access to new resources,” Manzella said. “The Library feels like a second home to me, and I know many other students who feel the same way.”

Sojourner Truth Library Dean Mark Colvson speaks as State Assemblymember Kevin Cahill ’77 looks on
Sojourner Truth Library Dean Mark Colvson speaks as State Assemblymember Kevin Cahill ’77 looks on

The ribbon cutting ceremony was followed by a day-long program of arts and academic events at the Library, including music performances by student groups and the presentation of a new one-act play from Assistant Professor of Theatre Arts Bria Walker. This was the culmination of a series of events held during the 2015-16 academic year considering the significance of Sojourner Truth’s life and work as a citizen of Ulster County and the role of the Library in this community.

“These events have centered on this wonderful academic library, a remarkable community achievement and one of the largest existing monuments to an extraordinary American – a former slave, orator, abolitionist and women’s rights advocate,” said Library Dean Mark Colvson. “They would not have been possible were it not for each member of the staff of the Sojourner Truth Library, the librarians, classified staff and student assistants, all of whom worked together and showed amazing patience and unflagging optimism. We owe every member of the Library a deep debt of gratitude for that.”

By happy coincidence, the celebration of the Sojourner Truth Library’s reopening came just one day after the U.S. Treasury Department would be adding her image to the $10 bill.

More information about the Sojourner Truth Library is available at http://library.newpaltz.edu/.