Carroll College Receives $300,000 for Library Renovations

Library Rendering

HELENA – Carroll College is pleased to announce that the Sunderland Foundation has awarded the college $300,000 to fund continued renovations of the Jack and Sallie Corette Library and Simperman Learning Commons.

“The Foundation’s gift will allow us to continue the important work of transforming our library from a traditional structure into a living, flexible space for multiple types of student work and collaboration,” said Carroll College President Dr. John Cech. “By integrating new technologies, the experiential learning and creative exploration enabled by this new hub will support cross-disciplinary work and create a learning environment in which intellectual curiosity will flourish.”

The Foundation’s grant will help support phase two renovations to the main floor of the library. The college began the first phase of a two-phase transformation of the library with the renovation of the building's lower level in 2018. Upon completion of the lower level in 2019, the college undertook a survey of students and faculty and also monitored usage of the building to determine the best configurations and priorities for the final phase of renovation.

Students and faculty indicated their preference for a technology-enabled, re-structured space that is more collaborative and innovative. During the planning process for the Jack and Sallie Corette Library and Simperman Learning Commons renovation, the college has remained committed to transforming this space into a student-centered building, where students take ownership of their education. The proposed design offers flexibility so that students may engage with their peers and professors, and shifts the library's focus away from simply serving as a repository of printed materials.

The renovated main floor will feature an open floor plan conducive to interaction, group study, and engagement among library staff and students. Groups of moveable chairs and tables, lounge style seating, and private study areas large and small, will deliver the variety and flexibility that students have identified as supporting both their social and intellectual well-being and success.

Students desire additional group study spaces and expanded technological resources to facilitate both basic lab work as well as theoretical and resource-based study. A digital innovation center is proposed to include a 3-D printer for modeling in various disciplines, and equipment and supplies for creation of objects in both arts and sciences. The Sandbox, an existing room that is equipped to allow students to network their laptops and display shared work on the walls, will be upgraded and improved.

Located adjacent to labs for podcasting and digital media production, the digital innovation center will be an essential component of this new center for innovation and experimentation on campus. The library's full-time academic technology specialists, whose offices will be next to the digital innovation center and labs, will easily interact with library patrons as they negotiate the new tools. The building will also provide a space for late-night and early morning study for those who prefer or need that scheduling.

Combined with the phase one renovations to the library, these upgrades will make the Jack and Sallie Corette Library and Simperman Learning Commons a model academic library and a regionally unique facility for students, faculty, and staff to engage in cross-disciplinary work and research and access both digital and traditional resources.

The Kansas-based Sunderland Foundation is the philanthropic arm of Ash Grove Cement Company, which had one of its 12 cement plants in Clancy, Montana, prior to selling it to a Dublin, Ireland-based company in 2018. The Foundation's mission is to improve quality of life by reinvesting in the communities where the Ash Grove Cement Company has historically operated through brick and mortar projects which reflect their unique heritage. In 2003, Carroll College received the Foundation’s first gift to higher education in Montana – a $10,000 grant for the Civil Engineering Building.

This newest grant is in addition to the over $4.2 million Mr. Roy Simperman, a Carroll class of 1962 graduate and Chairman and CEO of Semaphore Corporation, and his wife Frances, have gifted to the college since 2015 for the transformation of the Jack and Sallie Corette Library and Simperman Learning Commons.

“The tremendous generosity of Roy and Frances Simperman have paved the way for others such as the Sunderland Foundation to recognize the importance of providing state-of-the-art space and technology for our students to thrive and learn in a collaborative and innovative environment where they can then bring those experiences into the professional world,” said Cech. “We are grateful to those whose gifts enrich our students’ educational opportunities in meaningful and significant ways.”

For those interested in supporting the renovations for the Jack and Sallie Corette Library and Simperman Learning Commons, please visit the giving page for the Corette Library Building Fund.