University of Rochester

Rochester Review
September–October 2010
Vol. 73, No. 1

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LIBRARIES Room by Room Dedication of the third piece of Messinger family’s project completes an effort to restore historic spaces for students. By Kathleen McGarvey

The views of Eastman Quad from Rush Rhees Library’s second floor haven’t changed, but the rooms inside certainly have.

Messinger Family’s Philanthropic Legacy

Martin Messinger ’49 and his family have a long history of connection to and support for the University and its programs.

Messinger—whose family shares in his involvement with and support for the University—has also established three endowed funds, supporting the Judaic Studies program, the student Debate Union, and the Messinger Library Recognition Award, which honors the contributions of library staff to undergraduate, graduate, and faculty academic endeavors.

Read more about the family’s philanthropic legacy.

The second of two new graduate studies was officially opened in May at a special ceremony honoring trustee Martin Messinger ’49 and his family, who donated the funds for the studies’ creation. The rooms flank the Martin E. Messinger ’49 Periodical Reading Room, which was dramatically renovated in the late 1990s. Together, the three rooms form a renovated and restored west front on the second floor of the library.

“If you look at how the library is running, with students there around the clock, you see that it’s pivotal, and necessary,” Messinger says of his belief in the centrality of libraries. “You have to give students the infrastructure they need to do their work. Other than feeding them, I can’t think of anything more important.”

He recalls working in the Periodical Reading Room when he was a student. “It was a great, open room,” he says, but fluorescent ceiling lights added in the 1960s created “lousy lighting.”

In time for Rochester’s sesquicentennial in 2000, the room was reopened, complete with pendant lights resembling the original 1930s fixtures and an ambience that has made it one of the library’s most popular spaces.

With this spring’s dedication of Messinger Graduate Study Room South and its companion, Messinger Graduate Study Room North, Rochester students have a suite of comfortable and historic spaces in which to study. The two graduate student rooms had been used as storage spaces until a remark from Susan Gibbons, vice provost and Andrew H. and Janet Dayton Neilly Dean of River Campus Libraries, about wanting to enhance the library’s facilities for graduate students inspired Messinger.

“The Messinger Graduate Study Rooms ensure that our graduate students have a convenient, comfortable, and contemplative space on campus where they can focus on their own research in the company of fellow graduate students who are on similar academic journeys,” Gibbons says.

Messinger takes satisfaction in the final results. “We live in an era of information without knowledge,” he says, and libraries are a corrective to that.

“That was one of my reasons for supporting these projects.”