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Reading room named after donor who saw a strong library as an important foundation.

Samuel H. Gottlieb '40 Estate Gives $1.5 Million to Brooklyn College Library

In honor of the naming of the Sam and Bernice Gottlieb Reading Room at the Brooklyn College Library, we look at the evolution of the Brooklyn College Library.

This past year, Brooklyn College received a $1.5 million dollar gift from the estate of Samuel H. Gottlieb ‘40, who recognized that a robust library is the foundation of any college. In honor of his gift, the fourth-floor Multipurpose Room has been renamed the Sam and Bernice Gottlieb Reading Room. The Gottlieb funds will support a variety of essential needs in the library.

In 1935, Brooklyn College was established as the first public, coeducational, liberal arts college in the City of New York. The Georgian-style buildings were designed by architect Randolph Evans. The library, with its gold-and-white clock tower, was conceived by architect Randolph Evans as the centerpiece of the new, tree-lined campus, and would become the signature building of the college.

“No college today can become great while its library remains small,” wrote the college’s first chief librarian, Asa Don Dickinson (1931–1944). Since officially opening its doors in the fall of 1937, the library’s development has been steady over the years. An extension to the original building opened in August 1959, which included an open floor plan, and student and faculty lounges. Housed in LaGuardia Hall, named for New York City Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia, the library was renamed the Harry D. Gideonse Library in 1983, in honor of Brooklyn College President Harry D. Gideonse (1939–1966). Renovations were completed in 2002, and the new library complex included the Gideonse Extension, LaGuardia Hall, and a new wing. At that time, it housed over 21 miles of shelving and had 6.5 acres of floor space, seating over 2,000 patrons, as well as classrooms, study rooms, computer labs, and the Woody Tanger Auditorium. A 24/7 Library Café, the gift of technology and investment executive Morton Topfer ’59 and his wife, Angela, is located in nearby Whitehead Hall.

Under the leadership of President Karen L. Gould, the library has continued to evolve as an essential hub of campus life and scholarly endeavors. With one million print materials and close to 70,000 electronic books and journals, it is also home to extensive archives.