Steve Charles, a university trustee and 1980 advertising alumnus, donated $10 million to the new library set to open in May 2019. It will be named the Charles Library after the trustee.
Charles’s donation is one the largest individual donations in Temple’s history.
The donation will be invested into an endowment that will provide funds for recruiting and training library staff, maintaining the building, purchasing literary collections, supporting new technologies and advancing community outreach, public programs and partnerships.
Charles Library, which is a $170 million project, will be a four-story building with more than 210,000 square feet spanning an entire city block between Liacouras Walk and 13th Street and Polett Walk and Norris Street.
The Albert M. Greenfield Foundation also recently gifted Temple Libraries $1 million to open a “special collections research center reading room” on the first floor of Charles Library and provide long-term funding for maintenance of the space.
While the library is set to open in May 2019, it was originally scheduled to be completed in October 2018, but its completion date has been pushed back several times.
Jerry Leva, the vice president of planning and capital projects, told The Temple News in November 2017 that the new library will have sustainable components, like a green roof and more efficient heating and cooling systems.
Additionally, Charles Library will have robots that bring students books on command. Only 10 percent of the library’s books will be directly accessible to students, while the other 2 million books will be stored in a compact space only accessible to the robot cranes, WHYY reported in April 2016.
Charles donated these funds after he spoke with Dean of Libraries Joe Lucia at a Board of Trustees holiday party in December 2017.
“We got to talking, and he was explaining this vision of the library which is all about leveraging the current technology and the way we interact today, and that just really captured my imagination,” Charles said.
Charles said he hopes that students will be able to work together and collaborate in the library in ways that are similar to how leading companies operate.
Designers are planning to have “maker spaces” for students to work on projects, much like the breakout rooms in the TECH Center, Charles said.
“I would hope some years from now students might say, ‘We dreamed that up in the Charles’,” he added. “That would be awesome.”
After graduating from Temple in 1980, Charles cofounded immixGroup, a firm that helps technology companies conduct business with the federal government.
In 2011, Charles established the Steve Charles Endowed Scholarship Fund in Lew Klein College of Media and Communication, which provides scholarships to incoming freshmen who have financial need and an interest in studying entrepreneurship.
And in 2016, Charles joined the Board of Trustees and donated $2 million to establish the Steve Charles Chair in Media, Cities and Solutions in Klein, which focuses on solutions-based journalism and media to make a positive impact in urban centers like Philadelphia. The chair is currently filled by Marc Lamont-Hill, a CNN commentator.
“It’s been really great seeing life at a university from the administrative and management side,” Charles said. “It’s different from seeing things from the side of a student. That circling back to education from the side of administration and management is kind of like taking it full circle.”
Anne Harlow, a research librarian for dance, music and theater, is excited about the large donation to the new library.
“My initial reaction, truthfully, I cried tears of joy,” Harlow said. “I’m so happy and grateful to Steve Charles, and I think of the impact on tens of thousands of students. I think in the future, that every year there will be a new cohort of students, researchers and community members benefitting from this gift.”
Harlow said she hopes the donation will allow the library to continue to have a first-rate staff and interdisciplinary programs that are relevant to research and open to students and community residents.
“I see a very welcoming, glowing beam of light now, and in the future that will never dim down,” she added. “I hope students will discover truth, do research and work together for the greater good.”
Many students are looking forward to what the new library has to offer, too, like Lady Carmela Robinson, a senior risk management major. She thinks the new library will encourage future students to come to Temple.
“I heard that they’ll have a lot of innovative initiatives, so that’ll definitely help students with their learning experience,” Robinson said. “The current library is really outdated, and I personally don’t like to study there.”
Yasir Rodgers, a freshman film and media arts major, is also looking forward to the new library.
“I don’t really like the old library,” Rodgers said. “It’s old and musty. I’m excited to study in a new, fresh space.”
Charles said he hopes the library will be a place for collaboration among students from different fields.
“Innovation and even invention happens at the intersections of disciplines,” he added. “Hopefully this will be the place where more of that will happen, and that’s where value is created.”
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