John Deaver Drinko Library, Marshall University
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The John Deaver Drinko Library has been the primary library on campus since it opened in 1998. It stands at the former site of the College of Science Building, Northcott Hall (1915-1995), which was demolished to make room for the new library. Campus officials developed plans for a new library throughout the 1990s as a way to both replace the older Morrow Library and provide new technological and multimedia opportunities to students. It was named in honor of prominent attorney John Deaver Drinko, the largest donor for the library project. Drinko gives Marshall students a place to study, collaborate with peers, utilize computers and access thousands of books, journals, and electronic materials. The library today contains over 180,000 books and other materials, reading and study areas, high-speed Internet and computers, presentation rooms, IT services, a cafe, and a 24/7 computer lab.
Backstory and Context
By the 1990s Morrow Library, built in 1931, had become inadequate for the growing needs of Marshall University. In 1991 J. Wade Gilley became President of Marshall and made the creation of a new library one of his top priorities. In 1995 the university began an ambitious fundraising campaign, kickstarted with an initial $1 million donation from attorney John Deaver Drinko. A combination of 2,300 individual donations, state bond money, a federal grant, and the passage of a library fee for students raised a total of $31 million for a new, state-of-the-art library.
The site of the old Northcott Hall was chosen as the location for the new library. Northcott was built in 1915 and was only the second building on campus, the first being Old Main. It was named after prominent local businessman and politician Gustavus A. Northcott (1861-1938). Northcott originally housed classrooms and facilities for the science departments; after the opening of the Science Building in 1950 it was used for the business and art departments. Northcott Hall was demolished in 1995 to make way for the construction of the new library. The building’s original, carved, stone arch at its main entrance was preserved and incorporated into the design of the library as a window.
“I was a poor boy, and someone had to build those dang places before I got there, so I always wanted to pay that back.” – John Deaver Drinko
The library was named in honor of Marshall alumnus John Deaver Drinko (1921-2008), who contributed a total of $2.3 million to its construction. Drinko grew up in a poor household in St. Mary’s, West Virginia during the Great Depression; he worked hard to attend school while also supporting his mother and sister. Drinko graduated from Marshall College in 1942 and went on to receive a law degree from Ohio University. He joined the Cleveland, Ohio law firm of Baker & Hostetler and amassed a fortune by helping it grow into one of the largest firms in the nation. John Drinko and his wife Elizabeth frequently engaged in philanthropy and gave generously to various schools and organizations; in 1987 they made the first $1 million, non-corporate donation in Marshall’s history.
The John Deaver Drinko Library opened in October, 1998. Officials at the time hailed it as a game changer for Marshall, and predicted that the library’s new technology and high-speed Internet would dramatically change the academic experience for students. The four-story, 118,000 square foot facility contains space for 200,000 books, over 300 workstations, presentation rooms, study rooms, reading areas, a cafe, an IT center, and 24/7 study center. An atrium on the third floor houses the Wilbur E. Myers Gallery of Glass. Contributed in 2002 by Myers, a prominent Marshall donor, the permanent exhibit displays 400 pieces of glass from companies such as Tiffany Studios and Steuben Glass Works.
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