Lawrence and Ella Apple—two of the North Carolina State University Libraries’ most visionary and effective supporters—have stepped forward to name and endow a major space in the new James B. Hunt Jr. Library, providing a generous gift that will help make the iconic building the best learning and collaboration space in the country.
One of the wonders that users will first encounter when they walk into the new library will be a beautiful, glass-encased zone in the middle of the main floor. In this bright, airy space, the Libraries will display and demonstrate the new technology available for loan to students. In a reference to the stunning glass building that graces Fifth Avenue in New York, the zone was dubbed the “Apple Store” during the planning phase for the Hunt Library. Now, in a great bit of serendipity, the signature space will forever be called the Lawrence and Ella Apple Technology Showcase.
The NCSU Libraries has earned an international reputation for being a technology incubator, both at the university and for academic libraries in general. Last year, for instance, the Libraries loaned out almost 100,000 iPads, DSLR cameras, camcorders, laptops, graphics tablets, e-readers, and other technology. As former Senior Class President Jay Dawkins recently put it, “in the ‘real world’ these devices are often reserved for professionals making a lot of money—there are a lot of barriers to these technologies. The Libraries puts them into the hands of students who are being creative with them, who can take the technology and put their ideas into action.” The Tech Showcase will visually invite users to explore the technology that is there for the asking. Students entering the building will immediately be able to see what is available to help them boost creativity, excel in their work, and gain technology skills that are invaluable in landing that all-important first job.
The Apples, now living in Burlington, North Carolina, have in the past endowed other programs in the Libraries, supported graduate fellowships in the Plant Pathology Department, and lived abroad to gear up international programs at NC State, which Lawrence Apple ran during part of his tenure at the university. Lawrence Apple holds three degrees from NC State and was on the faculty from 1955-1991. In 2009, the university awarded him a Watauga Medal—NC State’s highest award for those who have rendered significant and distinguished service to the university.
The Hunt Library, now nearing completion on NC State’s Centennial Campus, has been generously funded by the General Assembly and the people of North Carolina. However, naming and other giving opportunities will help ensure that the vision of the Hunt Library as a major competitive advantage for NC State students and faculty, as well as for the economy of North Carolina, can be realized.