While the Library at Northside Hall was remodeled twice in the early 1980s, partly to accommodate a large donation by Robert Christenson of Abraham Lincoln memorabilia, it became increasingly clear that the library needed larger facilities.
In 1985, the IU Trustees approved the building of a new library on the IU South Bend campus. Two years later, the Indiana House of Representatives appropriated $ 250,000 for the construction of a library.
Franklin D. Schurz, chairman of the board of Schurz Communications, Inc., a media broadcasting company, as well as the former editor and publisher of The South Bend Tribune, donated money to complete the construction of the building. He had been pivotal in purchasing and securing land for the IU South Bend campus in the late 1950s. Other monies were provided by rental income from the Associates Building's computer facility and the Indiana state bonding authority. In addition, Library Director James Mullins actively raised money to support building efforts.
Dr. Mullins worked closely with architectural firm, Edward Larrabee Barnes/John M.Y. Lee & Partners of New York to create a state-of-the-art facility that would “satisfy the information requirements of faculty and students into the twenty-first century, whether for printed books and journals, for microforms or magnetic tapes, for compact discs or electronic databases, or for new formats not yet imagined.”
Since Mr. Schurz had been a generous supporter and friend of IU South Bend, it seemed fitting to name the new library after him. At the ribbon cutting ceremony in 1986, Chancellor Lester Wolfson remarked: “Seldom is there such an appropriate way to honor the name of so deserving an individual.” This sentiment was echoed again at the library’s dedication in June 1989. The program notes that:
“Most of [Mr. Schurz’s] public life was concerned with the communication of ideas and information through newspapers, radio, and television, and it is fitting that the library, as the campus treasury of information, should bear his name.”
Built with Indiana limestone, the Franklin D. Schurz Library features large green-glass windows, all crowned by a glass atrium. It is the tallest building on campus and includes six floors covering 86,000 square feet. The dedication program notes, "The site of the Library was chosen for its beautiful view overlooking the St. Joseph River and for the focus it would give to the growing campus."
Photos courtesy of the IU South Bend Archives.
Last reviewed: 08/2021