This year the Becker Library building marks its 50th anniversary—groundbreaking occurred in February and the cornerstone was laid in August of 1965. Its place on the campus of Springfield College in Illinois was a notable event as reflected in the May 1966 dedication ceremony. Among those in attendance were an Illinois governor (Otto Kerner), a Springfield mayor (Nelson O. Howarth), a Springfield bishop (Most Reverend William O’Connor), and numerous business leaders (from Sears Roebuck, Pillsbury, and Chicago and Illinois Midland Railway).
Pictured below is the groundbreaking ceremony; on left, Rev. Patrick Wright, officiating; Charles E. Becker with spade; Charles E. Becker, Jr., with hat.
The library was modern for its time—and an example of what libraries strive for even today: accommodations for different learning styles, the latest in technologies, and access to as many media as possible. Becker Library provided for all types of study: carrels for complete privacy, tables for groups, comfortable seating for relaxed studying. Provisions were made for multimedia: small rooms for typing, listening to tape recorders and record players, and viewing slides. An art gallery was located in the library hallway and the lower level featured an auditorium-type room equipped with film/slide/overhead projectors and a color television. Many of those features are still in existence today—updated and re-purposed!
Becker Library opened with 13,000 volumes, the number of which has grown to approximately 20,000 today.
Happy 50th, Becker Library!
The first home of the campus library was in the historic Brinkerhoff Mansion,which served as the administration building for Springfield Junior College, which opened in 1929. The collection at that time was 800 books. George Madoc Brinkerhoff, previous owner of the home, was a friend of Abraham Lincoln. He supported Lincoln’s presidential campaign, bid Lincoln goodbye as he left for Washington DC, and was a pallbearer at his funeral in Springfield.