Students in the Learning Commons of King’s University College which will be integrated with the Cardinal Carter Library. Photo courtesy King’s University College

Librarian’s estate gifts King’s with $1 million

By 
  • December 6, 2020

A bit early for Christmas, King’s University College has been hit with a surprise gift of $1 million — one of the largest gifts in the London, Ont., Catholic college’s history.

If the amount of the bequest is a surprise, the source is startling. It comes from the estate of the college’s former chief librarian, Elizabeth Russell.

“I wasn’t surprised by her giving a generous gift,” said King’s vice principal Marilyn Mason. “But I was surprised by the magnitude of the gift.”

The money will be spent on the G. Emmett Cardinal Carter Library that Russell had a hand in designing. A suite of technology pods, meeting spaces and a relocated and redesigned front service desk will seamlessly integrate the first floor of the library with the King’s student centre “Learning Commons” next door. The redesigned first floor of the library will be named the “Elizabeth Russell Achievement Centre.”

“Libraries are changing all the time. They are no longer just hallowed halls, corridors of books. They are meeting places; they are active learning places,” said Mason.

Mason is particularly pleased to see Russell’s place in the legacy of King’s will be permanently honoured. Though Russell retired in 1993, before the current library was opened in 1995, the concept of the library as a friendly, open space for learning was all Russell, she said.

Witty and thoughtful, she was known as Miss Russell to staff. She was one of the first females in senior leadership at the college, and a role model to Mason.

“She wanted you to succeed. She wanted you to grow. She saw the library as the heart of the whole thing,” Mason said.

(Story updated Dec. 9 for clarity.)

Last modified on December 9, 2020

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