The “Libe”

Ben Weiss

In 1982, a truck arrived behind the Gould Library carrying the parts to a brand-new German-made tower crane. It was to be used for the construction of an addition to the 1956 Carleton library that would double its size. The problem was that its assembly instructions were entirely in German. The dismayed crane operator entered the library and asked librarian Charlotte Lobitz if anyone there could read German. It turned out that he had found the right person. A recent German immigrant herself, Lobitz and her husband, Heinz, the college’s master carpenter, soon helped the crane operator assemble the massive structure.

The current Gould library combines the Carleton Memorial Library, originally built on that site in 1956, that was itself a replacement for the college’s first separately housed Scoville library, that had been built in 1896 next to the college’s entrance on First Street. In May, 1956, when the Carleton Memorial Library opened, a human chain of 890 students and 95 faculty members, along with alum and former Minnesota Governor J.A.A Burnquist, transferred 90,000 books to the new location. In 1995, the Carleton Memorial Library was renamed the Laurence McKinley Gould Library in honor of a recent Carleton president.

Currently, with more than 563,000 books in its collections, the library serves as the intellectual and social heart of the college. Students come by the hundreds to the ”libe” each night to study for their classes, meet with professors, and research essays and projects. The concrete pad on which the crane rested has become a Founder’s Court to honor major donors. It now supports a stone arch designed and built by sculptor Dimitri Hadzi.