UNC Celebrating Michener Library’s First 40 Years

James Michener

Pulitzer Prize-winning author James A. Michener addresses a crowd of more than 1,000 during the Oct. 27, 1972, naming and dedication ceremony for UNC's new library.

The University of Northern Colorado is celebrating the 40th anniversary of the naming and dedication of its Michener Library this week with a variety of activities culminating Friday with a ceremony that will include a presentation by a Michener biographer.

The "James A. Michener Library: Dedicated for 40 Years" ceremony from 3-4:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 2, will feature a presentation by author Stephen J. May, whose 2005 book, Michener: A Writer's Journey, reveals how the aspiring writer became a Pulitzer Prize-winning and best-selling novelist. It's the only Michener biography that draws on his complete papers, which he donated to UNC shortly before his death in 1997.

Contrary to common belief, the library wasn't named after Michener because he contributed to the building's $5 million cost. When completed in May 1971, the new facility was named University Library. University officials' subsequent decision to name the library after a famous alumnus coincided with Michener's rise in popularity as a writer and his return to Colorado in the early-1970s to research and write Centennial.

Michener earned his master's degree from what was then known as Colorado State College of Education in 1937 and taught teacher education courses until 1941.

Friday's ceremony also will include an audio recording of Michener's speech at the Oct. 27, 1972, dedication and naming of the library, which was attended by more than a 1,000 people, and a slide show of the construction and history of the library, which at 235,000 sq. ft., is the largest building on campus..

In addition, UNC Professor of History Michael Welsh will speak on the role of libraries at the university, how they've changed over the years and how they'll continue to change.

Guided tours of the facility will be conducted at 2, 2:30 and 4:30 p.m. and a reception in the library's Mari Michener Gallery will follow the ceremony from 4:30- 6 p.m.

The tours, ceremony and reception are free and open to the public. Free parking will be available in UNC lots L, M and Y west of Michener Library after 2 p.m.

Other celebration activities this week include:

In addition to commemorating the 40th anniversary of the original naming and dedication ceremony, the week's activities are designed to familiarize UNC students with Michener's place in literary history and why the library is named after him.

For more information, contact Kalen May, the celebration's coordinator, at 351-2601.



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