By Jacob Given
CIU Student Writer
Just before graduation day in May 2010, CIU President Dr. Bill Jones prayed with the board of trustees that God would “strike a fire” under the graduates. The next morning he got a phone call that CIU’s G. Allen Fleece Library was on fire. The blaze, caused by an electrical problem, would cause $2.5 million in damages.
Jones recounted that story on Jan. 24, 2012, at the dedication of the renovated G. Allen Fleece Library. “When I saw how good this library turned out, I made a list of other buildings to pray for,” Jones joked from the podium.
The $1.3 million in improvements to the library includes glass-enclosed rooms that encourage collaborative study, the latest high-tech connectivity, new furniture, a copier alcove, and a coffee nook that features a coffee maker that grinds the coffee beans. The renovated library opened to students on Jan. 17.
The dedication followed a chapel message by CIU alumnus Dr. David Calhoun of Covenant Theological Seminary in St Louis, the son-in-law of G. Allen Fleece. Fleece was the second president of CIU, and instrumental in the building of the original library in 1968.
David Fleece and Anne Fleece Calhoun, children of G. Allen Fleece, attended the dedication and said the renovated library is a fitting tribute to their father.
“My father was a quiet man,” David Fleece said. “(He) found places of solitude in which his faith was nourished and maintained, and he valued the handing down of the knowledge of the Scriptures.”
Since the fire, students had been using a temporary library in a small, steel-framed building that students dubbed, “The Book Barn.”
CIU student Jacob Tedder said the transition from “The Book Barn” to the renovated library is nearly overwhelming.
“I don’t feel like the walls are closing in on me anymore,” Tedder said. “This new library has a lot more space and will be a lot better for studying.”
Student Emily Cox agreed.
“I love it. I have a place to chill out and have some space to myself.”
Library Director Jo Ann Rhodes says a lot of planning went into the library improvements.
“We worked very hard to plan the new layout of the library to make it something that is beneficial to the students,” Rhodes said. “I think about how good God has been to us to bring us to this place.”
Listen to the dedication day chapel message from Dr. David Calhoun at: http://podcast.ciu.edu/01242012-dr-david-calhoun-our-time-and-our-ta
Check out how CIU students celebrated the opening of the library with “Occupy Fleece” at:
CIU Communication student Michael McCall has produced a video about the library fire and renovation. See it on YouTube at:
For photos from the dedication see the CIU Flickr site: