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Last modified: Thursday, March 31, 2005

IU Bloomington's Main Library to be named for Herman B Wells

Photo by: courtesy IU Archives

Herman B Wells

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SOUTH BEND, Ind. -- The Trustees of Indiana University on Friday (April 1) approved the naming of the Main Library on IU's Bloomington campus for Herman B Wells, the university's visionary chancellor who died five years ago this month.

The university reserved the naming opportunity shortly after Wells' death in 2000. With characteristic modesty, Wells had refused to allow any buildings to be named for him during his lifetime or until five years after his death. The library's naming was recommended March 31 by the Facilities Committee and came up for a vote at the trustees' business meeting on Friday. The trustees met on the IU South Bend campus.

The university will celebrate the naming of the Herman B Wells Library with a ceremony on June 17.

"We are indebted to Herman Wells for his vision and tireless efforts that transformed Indiana University into a world-class research university," said IU President Adam W. Herbert. "In recognition of President Wells' distinguished institutional leadership, it is particularly fitting that the university's central repository of knowledge -- our main library -- be named after him."

Wells was president of IU from 1938 to 1962 and was university chancellor from 1962 to 2000. He led the university through its post-World War II expansion and is credited with transforming IU into an internationally recognized center of research and scholarship and one of America's great public universities. As university chancellor, he was active up until his death at age 97 on the campus where he resided and was much beloved.

Collections at the IU Bloomington Libraries grew by more than 640 percent during his tenure as president. Wells' vision included the recognition that a university is defined, at least in part, by its libraries. At the dedication ceremony for the Main Library in 1969, Wells said, "There is no distinguished university without a great library."

"Naming the library for Herman Wells is a splendid opportunity to honor all that he did for IU students and faculty," said Suzanne Thorin, Ruth Lilly University Dean of University Libraries. "Chancellor Wells valued the importance of libraries as a shared resource used by the entire Indiana University community. This equality of purpose is consistent with everything that he wanted for IU."

Photo by: Chris Meyer

Wells Library

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The university is seeking $28.4 million in the first phase of renovations to recreate a library that honors Wells' legacy and meets the needs of students and faculty. Plans call for transforming the south entrance to include additional services, adding an auditorium classroom and upgrading the infrastructure.

IU already has contributed more than $11.8 million from campus and private support to prepare for the renovation and has piloted concepts to demonstrate how a master architectural plan can be implemented successfully.

The IU Libraries ranked 12th in the most recent survey of the nationwide Association of Research Libraries. As the largest and most visible entry point to a system of 20 libraries on the Bloomington campus, the Main Library holds more than 4.1 million volumes, in addition to materials in other formats including journals, maps and microforms.

EDITORS: Architectural renderings of the proposed renovated Wells Library are available online at