History of Padua Franciscan Student Library

By Jerry Jindra ‘70

The original Padua student library was located on the second floor, in an area now known as room 224, chapel, and campus ministry. The old library was actually more of a “reading room,” with the majority of volumes shelved in a large “stack room” across the hall (now configured as two computer labs). Students selected books from the manual card catalogue and then requested the volume from the front desk. In the early days of the school, the book was then retrieved from “the stacks” by a member of the Library Club, a privileged society of upper classmen. Even in later years, students were generally not permitted to browse books themselves in the stack room.

The idea of a new, modern library was first discussed in 1984, and by October of that year conceptual drawings were prepared by W. R. Davison, architect. It was determined that the new facility should be installed on the third floor, in an area originally occupied by the Franciscan friars (the friars had vacated the third floor earlier that year, relocating their residence to a nearby former apartment building). The area chosen for the library was originally configured as bedrooms (on the north side) and recreation room, TV room, phone booths, and friary library (south side). Whereas the original library was 3,160 square feet, the new design called for a facility 6,250 square feet in size, which would house all volumes in a contiguous area.

It is interesting to note that the first design for the new library included a clerestory, or glass-enclosed opening, that allowed students to look up into the center of the library from the floor below. A skylight was to top off the clerestory, providing natural lighting to the future library, chapel, and computer labs below. A three-dimensional model was also created to determine the best placement of shelving, tables and chairs, and traffic flow. Although a beautiful design, it was decided to omit the opening, primarily for ‘modesty’ purposes. The skylight was omitted due to budgetary and maintenance considerations. (The clerestory was replaced with a faux-vaulted ceiling outside of the chapel).

Funds for the construction of the new library were secured as part of Padua’s “25th Anniversary Campaign” which was launched June 5, 1986. The honorable James W. Day, former mayor of Parma, was selected as chairperson of the campaign. Due to the influence of Mr. Day, Padua attracted the interest of Mr. George B. Zane, a Cleveland real-estate developer and philanthropist. Mr. Zane committed $100,000 to the construction of the library and chapel in July of 1989.

Unfortunately, as the time for construction neared, the estimated expense for constructing these two areas doubled, primarily due to the cost of asbestos removal. Mr. Zane generously agreed to cover the additional expense in April of 1990.

The dedication of the library and chapel on December 7, 1990 marked the successful end to the campaign and the final phase of an aggressive renovation program begun five years earlier. More than three hundred friends, donors, and civic leaders attended the event, including Congresswoman Mary Rose Oakar and the chief-of-staff of George Voinovich, who was representing the governor-elect. At Mr. Zane’s request, the facilities were named in honor of his late wife, Patricia, and marble plaques denoting that fact were unveiled that evening.

Although the library and chapel were the crown jewel of the campaign, the effort also made possible the west wing biology labs (site of the original Padua chapel), a new chemistry and physics lab, new third-floor faculty offices, as well as conversion of the friary kitchen and dining room into theology classrooms.