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A Celebration of Knowledge Sharing
Valerie Gieler
(Photo above) KENNETH SPENCER RESEARCH LIBRARY. BUILT ON A HALF-CENTURY OF SUPPORT. A gift from the Kenneth and Helen Spencer Foundation established the library in 1968. Since then, generous contributions have enhanced the building and greatly expanded its collections. In 2011, the Marilyn Stokstad Reading Room was dedicated in honor of the late professor emerita of art history. Support from former librarian Ann Hyde and the Friends of KU Libraries made possible the North Gallery renovations in 2017.
Spencer Research Library turns 50

A single gift established KU’s Kenneth Spencer Research Library when it opened in 1968. The ripple effects of that act of generosity are difficult to quantify — the library has enriched untold lives by elevating discovery for generations of knowledge-seekers around the world.

Founded by Helen Spencer in honor of her late husband, the library is commemorating its legacy with events year-long, kicked off by “50 for 50: Celebrating 50 years of Kenneth Spencer Research Library.” To create an exhibit unlike any it had done before, the library asked researchers, students, colleagues and friends to suggest items that have made an impact on them.

“We made an attempt to represent all the areas of our collections and to focus on stories of how they have shaped the world through contact in classes, personal impact or publication breakthroughs,” said Beth Whittaker, director of Spencer Research Library. The items span the globe and human history; a few that represent KU and Kansas include a 1930 Jayhawker yearbook, Potter Lake photographs, a KU Monopoly game and a Kansas flag that was carried to the moon.

The exhibit’s publication can be viewed at For the library, preserving the past is as important as cataloging the present, and it is honored to continue that tradition.

“Each day, I am overwhelmed by the richness and variety of the library’s collections, the knowledge of our staff, the curiosity of our patrons, and by the generosity of the donors who have entrusted us with their beloved books, manuscripts and photographs,” Whittaker said.

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