The Class of 1945 Library has been standing over 80 feet tall at the heart of PEA’s Campus since 1971. Designed by renowned architect of the 20th Century, Louis Khan, students, and teachers alike admire the simplistic exterior and beautiful interior of the nine-level building. It was officially named the Class of 1945 Library in 1995 to honor Dr. Lewis Perry, who served as principal from 1914 to 1946. Circular pillars with almost window-like functions line the four interior walls of the building, showcasing bookcases with over 160,000 volumes throughout the entire library.
When asked for his opinion of the library, one student said: “I really like it and I think it is a very fundamental part of the Exeter Summer experience. It’s also extremely helpful to do work in and even if you don’t do work, it’s great to just be with friends in a comfortable air-conditioned space.” Another only had praises to sing: “I love the library! It’s great. The first day of Exeter Summer I was here the entire day, and it was the most amazing thing ever.”
As constant users of this tool ourselves, we can confirm this. With over 200 study carrels, many lounges, and with more than five independent study rooms, there is nearly enough space for half of the regular program’s student body to study or just chill at one time. During COVID, many day students used the library as a place to take online classes and avoid distractions. When asked about her favorite part of the Library, Ms. Rohloff, the Associate Director, states: “I always tell people to come to the third floor or 3M because that’s where the fiction section is, and also because there’s the study lounge and a great view of the Academy Building across the way.”
Over the years, the library has gone through two renovations. The learning commons on the ground floor that used to be called the periodical section, holding magazines and news articles, has now turned into a space where food and drinks are allowed. The Archives and Special Collections floor has also undergone some remodeling over the years, and the librarians are always trying to run different events and try new things. The COVID-19 pandemic has also drastically affected types of material given out: eBooks for virtual learning were introduced.
Not only did Exeter’s library gain more eBooks over the pandemic, but many teachers learned of the existence of eBooks. When asked about how COVID-19 has changed Exeter’s library, Ms. Rohloff states: “The thing that’s changed is more people realize that they’re there and their uses are there for people to use. A history teacher who is used to coming in and using a print encyclopedia now knows that we have all these encyclopedia eBooks, so that’s changing.” However, she goes on to explain how we are not quite at the point where the books will disappear yet because of the ways publishers work and how the eBook platforms are not there yet in terms of allowing for easy accessibility. Since there are still some things we can’t get online in a way that is accessible for everyone, the hundreds of thousands of books at the library are here to stay.
The Class of 1945 Library has many faculty and staff who bring the place to life, even on weekends! Ms. Rohloff, who helps with student orientations and runs events, explains how the librarians here can help you find whatever material you need, whether that is leisure reading, working on a project, club volunteer work, or more. For those looking for books to read, Ms. Rohloff recommends “The Firekeeper’s Daughter” by Angeline Boulley, (a crime fiction story), “The Last Night at the Telegraph Club” by Malinda Lo, (a historical love story set in San Francisco after WWII), and “The House in the Cerulean Sea” by T.J. Klune, (a feel-good magical realism story, like Lemony Snicket or Harry Potter).
To find more information about the Class of 1945 Library, visit its about us page on Exeter’s website at https://www.exeter.edu/academics/library/about.