University Reopens Library after $11M Renovations

University Reopens Library after $11M Renovations

The Walter E. Helmke Library on the Indiana University–Purdue University (IPFW) campus is opening its doors once again after being closed during 2016 to undergo extensive renovations.

“I am very excited to be back home again in Indiana and honored to carry on Cheryl Truesdell’s legacy in academic library leadership,” said Alexis Macklin, newly appointed Dean of Helmke Library. “Many thanks to the state legislators who approved the money to upgrade the infrastructure and refresh the Helmke Library, making it a state of the art facility for the IPFW community. The renovated space isn’t just beautiful, it’s more energy efficient and will save the campus money spent on these types of resources.”

After undergoing the most extensive renovation in the building’s 44-year history, costing $11 million, the Helmke Library aims to be a hub and innovative learning, and will feature free access to:

  • A physical and virtual space connected through an upgraded power grid, network, and Wi-Fi access;
  • Public access to Indiana’s Statewide Remote Circulation Service (SRCS), linking 52 academic libraries, 113 libraries, and 2 special libraries, including the Indiana State Library;
  • New computing facilities throughout, a high-end computer lab, and a digital teaching/learning classroom;
  • A new grand staircase that connects the first floor and the second-floor Learning Commons; and
  • Digital collections showcasing scholarly and creative accomplishments and archival collections of IPFW faculty, students, alumni, and staff developed in cooperation with community partners such as the Allen County-Fort Wayne Historical Society.

“Most importantly,” Macklin said, “The new design allows for more flexible use of the space to better accommodate the evolving needs of our students.”

The history of the Walter E. Helmke Library is linked not only with the university but also with the community. Indiana University first offered classes in Fort Wayne in 1917. Purdue University, responding to manpower needs, established courses here during World War II. When Indiana University and Purdue University Fort Wayne moved to the site of the present campus in 1964, their separate libraries were merged into one collection that numbered 35,000 books and 600 periodical subscriptions. In 1969, the Indiana legislature appropriated funds for a new library building and the building opened in 1972. In September of that year, the entire campus as well as local citizens moved the 100,000-volume collection from the old facility in Kettler Hall to the new library in a well-orchestrated Book Walk.

From the beginning, the library has been open to the public. In addition to serving the IPFW academic community, the library is often visited by high school students, by students from other colleges, and by professionals and others seeking information not available in local libraries. All Indiana residents are eligible for library cards.

Several naming opportunities for spaces around the library are still available to faculty, staff, alumni, and community members. Donors may also choose to honor or memorialize a friend, loved one, a student, faculty or staff member, or a business.


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