Barry McNamara  |   Published August 17, 2021

What’s New at Hewes?

Library staff ready to provide full service to students, with a few visual surprises.

MONMOUTH, Ill. – Just as the key to real estate is location, location, location, the key to the success of Monmouth College’s Hewes Library is students, students, students.

POW! This bright mural, which SOFIA students were adding final touches to last week, will instant... POW! This bright mural, which SOFIA students were adding final touches to last week, will instantly catch the eye of students who enter Hewes Library from the east.Library director Sarah Henderson shared that sentiment as she discussed the imminent arrival of Monmouth’s students to start fall classes on Aug. 25.

“The library is not the library without students,” she said. “They’re the heart and soul of this place.”

And Hewes Library has some new things in store for them.

“The biggest difference is that we are fully open,” said Henderson. “All three floors are accessible. To have the students back in every corner of the library means the world to us.”

“Every corner” is now the appropriate term, as much of the upper level of the library was closed last year due to the pandemic. That will allow some students to return to the “cozy nooks” they became accustomed to in pre-COVID days. They also might find some new spaces they like, said Henderson.


“The biggest difference is that we are fully open. All three floors are accessible. To have the students back in every corner of the library means the world to us.” Sarah Henderson

“We’re constantly trying to evolve and make our spaces better for the students and just continue that momentum from year to year,” she said.

This fall, students, faculty, staff and campus guests will still be required to wear masks inside College buildings, except in residence hall rooms and while eating, such as at Einstein Bros. Bagels cafe in Hewes Library.

New student art

To celebrate the return to operation almost as normal, the library held a ribbon-cutting ceremony on Aug. 2, much the way a business would have a “soft open” with a limited number of customers. The “full open” will come the week of Aug. 23, when all of Monmouth’s students will be back on campus.

SOFT OPEN: On Aug. 2, the staff members whose offices are in Hewes Library provided a visual remi... SOFT OPEN: On Aug. 2, the staff members whose offices are in Hewes Library provided a visual reminder to the campus community that the building is once again fully open. Pictured at the ribbon cutting ceremony are, from left, Sarah Henderson, Jill Munson, Marti Carwile, Patte Shallenberger and Christine Johnston.Those who visit the library will see new color and energy in the place.

“It’s visually dynamic and stunning. I can’t stop talking about it,” said Henderson of work that several students have done in the library as part of the College’s Summer Opportunities for intellectual Activities program. The work includes a bright, pop art-inspired “Roll Scots” mural near the east entrance that calls to mind a graphic from the Batman television series. Less obvious is another piece the SOFIA students created.

“When people find it, I think they’ll be amused and surprised,” said Henderson. “We’re not telling anybody where it is, so it’s like an Easter egg hunt. … We hope to collaborate with the art students on future projects.”

Monmouth art professor Janis Wunderlich supervised the SOFIA students, and her department colleague Stacy Lotz is creating an installation around a portrait of Mister Rogers by Monmouth alumnus Dusty Scott ’03.

Also at the east entrance is a display of Monmouth College memorabilia.

“We always try to start the year with displays that relate to Monmouth College and its history and traditions,” said Henderson. “Many of the pieces are taken from our archives upstairs.”

Also new is more of a blurred line between where the popular Einstein Bros. shop ends and the rest of the library begins.

“We wanted the two areas to blend better, so we created a melding of the coffee shop into the library,” said Henderson, who also noted that, nearby, the reference desk has been shifted so that “we’re easily found. Students don’t have to hunt us down.”

Henderson eagerly awaits the first reference question, as well as any other ways she and her staff can help Monmouth’s students.

“We’re ready,” she said. “We’ve been ready for a long time.”

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