Students, faculty and administrators lined the streets surrounding Ringling College in Sarasota Monday morning, forming a human chain to pass the final 200 books from Kimbrough Library into the college’s newly opened building up the block.
The ceremonial “Passing of the Books” celebrated the opening of the Alfred R. Goldstein Ringling College Library, an $18 million structure that dwarfs its predecessor.
The first book to begin its 500-yard hand-to-hand journey up the block, across the street and into the new library was “Let Virtue be Your Guide,” by Francis Danny. The book was followed by about 200 more, each progressing through hundreds of hands until it reached College President Larry Thompson, who held several books aloft for the crowd to see before he placed it on a cart to be whisked away to its new home.
The event gave participants a look at a random sampling of the library’s 75,000 volumes. Many participants would pause and look at a book before handing it off. Murmurs of “I need to check that one out” could be heard up and down the line.
Once the bucket brigade of books had concluded, Johnson addressed the crowd outside the new building.
“The library is the brain and the heart of a college campus,” Johnson said, quoting Goldstein, a life trustee with the college whose name adorns several campus buildings. “That is especially true here at Ringling College.”
Johnson described the building as “the library for the future,” saying to the students: “You are the future, so that's why it's called a library of the future.”
After Johnson’s remarks, college officials opened the doors of the new building and invited students in. Inside the building, large colorful murals by Ringling alumnus and artist Julie Kanapaux decorated the atrium.
Kanapaux was excited to see her artwork displayed in a place that helped develop her as an artist.
“This space used to be the 3-D lab and sculpture. I've built several sculptures in the space,” Kanapaux said. “It's really coming back to my origin of creativity.”
Dion Bangun, 22, a sophomore illustration major, said the new building would provide support for students who use expensive computer programs and equipment for design projects. Students have been lobbying for longer hours to the Kimbrough Library, and Bangun is grateful for the promise of having round-the-clock access to state-of-the-art equipment in the new building.
As they toured the new facility, several students said they were impressed with the aesthetics.
“There are so many open spaces where you can work,” said Jose Gayosso, a 23-year-old advertising student. “You can enjoy coming here and working. Looking out the windows and changing up the environment is going to be good for (creativity).”
“This is so cool,” Jenna Borges said as she stepped onto the building’s second floor, where students were admiring Kanapaux’s mural, glass walls, modern furniture and a balcony overlooking the back of the property.
“I can already tell people are excited about this, and since this is a library, people are going to be spending loads of time here,” Borges said.