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CCU holds groundbreaking ceremony for Thompson Library

May 12, 2022

Coastal Carolina University held a groundbreaking ceremony for its Thompson Library on Thursday, May 12. The $29.8 million, two-story, 64,000-square-foot library will integrate much-needed student spaces and services with cutting-edge, immersive technologies.

Thompson Library has been named in memory of longtime Conway residents John and Barbara (Richardson) Thompson, who generously gave a $4.425 million estate gift to the University. Learn more about the Thompsons here.

During his remarks, CCU President Michael T. Benson said, “At its epicenter, any great university has a great library.” He also shared a quote from American educator and academic Daniel Coit Gilman, who was the first president of Johns Hopkins University, in which he said, “The library of a university is its very heart. If the heart is weak, every organ suffers; if strong, all are invigorated.”

CCU Provost Dan Ennis shared a passage from one of the institution’s first library books and the history of the original campus library’s founding, as well as his excitement about the new facility.

“The mission of a library is literacy, education, and the preservation and dissemination of knowledge,” Ennis said. “Welcome to a historic moment in the life of this institution. May we never forget how precarious the freedom to think and learn can be, and how important libraries are. They are the fundamental buildings of a university.”

Sherry Johnson, chair of the CCU board of trustees’ Facilities and Planning Committee, said, “As an extremely proud graduate of Coastal Carolina University, it gives me great pleasure to see that my alma mater is continuing to enhance the student experience by investing in new academic facilities. The tremendous growth this University has experienced in recent years would not be possible without the support of numerous benefactors. Today, we are grateful to recognize the generosity of former longtime Conway residents John and Barbara Thompson.”

The new library’s first floor will feature a large makerspace, a virtual reality and data visualization lab, and individual studios for video/audio production. It will also feature a large, open study area for collaboration and socialization. Library services such as instruction and research assistance and equipment checkout will be located in the facility. The second floor will include academic and athletic tutoring, tutoring and learning centers, Coastal Student Success Center, and Student Computing Services. Additional group study rooms will be located throughout the building.

Melvin Davis, University Librarian, spoke about the expansion of space and the academic services that will be housed in the new facility, which will effectively double the combined square footage of the Kimbel Library and Bryan Information Commons.

“We’re looking forward to this synergy,” Davis said. “It’s not just a library; it’s all these other entities living together and working together for a common purpose … The student success initiatives, coupled with the immersive technologies that we’re going to see in this building, are really geared toward success in the classroom and success post-graduation. Today’s libraries are more than their information sources and surfaces. They play an important role in socialization and connectedness.”

Diane Sanders, CCU’s vice president for advancement and alumni engagement, thanked the Thompson family for their gift.

“Much of this project would not be possible without the generosity of John and Barbara Thompson,” she said. “It’s because of donors like the Thompsons, who believed in education and their hometown university, that we’ve been able to grow from Coastal Carolina Junior College, established in 1954 with a meeting in the Horry County Memorial Library.

“It brings me such joy knowing that the Thompson name will be here as a legacy for years to come, in this dedicated space that will impact our current students and the generations of Chanticleers after them.”

The Starbucks on campus, which is in Kimbel Library, will be relocated to Thompson Library. Kimbel Library is scheduled to undergo a $15.5 million renovation after the new library opens.