Library archives undergo move to Andersen Library

The Wallin Center provides more space to store University of Minnesota collections.

The lobby of Anderson Library features the Bell Gallerys exhibit, Festival, Spectacle, and Celebration in the Early Modern World.

Jerusa Nyakundi

The lobby of Anderson Library features the Bell Gallery’s exhibit, “Festival, Spectacle, and Celebration in the Early Modern World.”

by Megan Palmer

A new research center consisting of two underground vaults in Andersen Library aims to expand reading space at the University of Minnesota.

Over the summer, collections from Wilson Library were moved to the Maxine Houghton Wallin Special Collections Research Center — a new home for the University’s primary rare books collection. The space is also home to the James Ford Bell Library, which comprises rare books and maps focusing on global trade prior to 1800. 

A feature of the center is a large reading room with natural light that allows users to look through the University’s collections, as well as a classroom for faculty. The Wallin family donated $1.5 million for the new space to honor their mother Maxine Houghton Wallin, a former librarian who cataloged rare books in the University’s collections. 

Kris Kiesling, director of Library Archives and Special Collections, said the space was made to serve as a functional space for those who use the collections. Another reason for the move was to properly preserve the rare books collection and the James Ford Bell Library. 

“Wilson Library was getting old, and maintaining the climate controls that are necessary for our rare collection were becoming more difficult,” said Marguerite Ragnow, curator of the James Ford Bell Library. The Wallin Center has vaults that ensure optimal climate control for book preservation. 

The planning process spanned about three years before the Wallin Center was completed earlier this year, Kiesling said. 

Elijah Blackman, an archives and special collections student assistant in Andersen Library, helped move materials from Wilson Library. 

“It took a long time, about four months,” Blackman said. “I like it a lot better here … [there’s] more open [space].”