Library creates new foundation honoring Cunningham
Published: Friday, October 21, 2011
Updated: Friday, October 21, 2011 11:10
The Cunningham Memorial Library recently created a new foundation in honor of Arthur Cunningham, after whom the library is named.
Arthur Cunningham was the first librarian at ISU, when it was called Indiana State Normal School.
"Arthur Cunningham was a very progressive thinker for his time," Cheryl Blevens, a assistant librarian at the Cunningham Memorial Library, who is also one of the main people associated with the creation of this new foundation, said. "He introduced the Dewey Decimal System to both ISU's library and to the public library."
Cunningham also helped to extend the library hours, and helped establish a library science department, Blevens said. Even after his retirement, Cunningham stayed involved with the Terre Haute community, where members of his family still reside.
The ISU library used to have a friends group that supported them with funding and other resources, but that group disbanded in 2009.
"When the friends group disappeared, members of the library felt that there still was a need for this type of group, so we started thinking about what we could do to gain support for the library," Dara Middleton, the library's event coordinator who is also in charge of public relations associated with the Arthur Cunningham Society, said. "There are still people who want to support libraries, so we knew that if we could create another foundation, people would support us."
Soon after the disbanding of the Friends group, Alberta Comer, who is the Dean of the library Services, went to Blevens and suggested that they research other libraries with strong ties to their Friends groups. Blevens said that this way, they could see what ISU needed to do to gain more support. As a result, the Arthur Cunningham Society was born. Since then, Blevens said, she and Middleton have worked very hard to figure out how to make sure ACS would succeed.
The Arthur Cunningham Society plans on retaining the amount of support that Cunningham provided for his library and community, Blevens said. With financial contributions from the community, the foundation hopes to better serve the needs of students. Blevens also said that some of the ways they plan on doing this is by keeping the library open 24/7 during finals week and also providing refreshments to students during that time, along with supporting the Sponsor Extravaganza, the annual welcome back for students and faculty, and also by supporting the annual Authors and Artists events, which recognize the creativity of ISU faculty.
One main event that the Arthur Cunningham Society is planning to hold in order to promote this new society is Arthur Cunningham Day, Bleven said. On this day, they would honor Cunningham and what he did for libraries and the community, while promoting membership.
Anyone is welcome to become a member of the Arthur Cunningham Society, by means of a financial contribution.
There are different levels of financial contributions, but Blevens said, "We don't want to unintentionally restrict people who could support us. People need to know that they have the opportunity to support the library in the best way they know how."
For more information about the Arthur Cunningham Society, e-mail ISU-CunninghamSociety@mail.indstate.edu, or visit the website at www.library.indstate.edu/CunninghamSociety.