John Deaver Drinko Library, Marshall University
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Backstory and Context
By the 1990s Morrow Library, built in 1931, had become inadequate for the growing needs of Marshall University. In 1991 J. Wade Gilley became President of Marshall and made the creation of a new library one of his top priorities. In 1995 the university began an ambitious fundraising campaign, kickstarted with an initial $1 million donation from attorney John Deaver Drinko. A combination of 2,300 individual donations, state bond money, a federal grant, and the passage of a library fee for students raised a total of $31 million for a new, state-of-the-art library.
The site of the old Northcott Hall was chosen as the location for the new library. Northcott was built in 1915 and was only the second building on campus, the first being Old Main. It was named after prominent local businessman and politician Gustavus A. Northcott (1861-1938). Northcott originally housed classrooms and facilities for the science departments; after the opening of the Science Building in 1950 it was used for the business and art departments. Northcott Hall was demolished in 1995 to make way for the construction of the new library. The building’s original, carved, stone arch at its main entrance was preserved and incorporated into the design of the library as a window.
“I was a poor boy, and someone had to build those dang places before I got there, so I always wanted to pay that back.” – John Deaver Drinko
The library was named in honor of Marshall alumnus John Deaver Drinko (1921-2008), who contributed a total of $2.3 million to its construction. Drinko grew up in a poor household in St. Mary’s, West Virginia during the Great Depression; he worked hard to attend school while also supporting his mother and sister. Drinko graduated from Marshall College in 1942 and went on to receive a law degree from Ohio University. He joined the Cleveland, Ohio law firm of Baker & Hostetler and amassed a fortune by helping it grow into one of the largest firms in the nation. John Drinko and his wife Elizabeth frequently engaged in philanthropy and gave generously to various schools and organizations; in 1987 they made the first $1 million, non-corporate donation in Marshall’s history.
The John Deaver Drinko Library opened in October, 1998. Officials at the time hailed it as a game changer for Marshall, and predicted that the library’s new technology and high-speed Internet would dramatically change the academic experience for students. The four-story, 118,000 square foot facility contains space for 200,000 books, over 300 workstations, presentation rooms, study rooms, reading areas, a cafe, an IT center, and 24/7 study center. An atrium on the third floor houses the Wilbur E. Myers Gallery of Glass. Contributed in 2002 by Myers, a prominent Marshall donor, the permanent exhibit displays 400 pieces of glass from companies such as Tiffany Studios and Steuben Glass Works.
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Haye, Rick, photographer. Marshall University, Northcott Hall, 400 Hal Greer Boulevard, Huntington, Cabell County, WV. Historic American Buildings Survey. Photograph. Accessed January 1, 2020. https://www.loc.gov/item/wv0439/.
Highsmith, Carol M, photographer. The John Deaver Drinko Library, on the campus of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Photograph. Accessed January 1, 2020. https://www.loc.gov/item/2015631806/.
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MarshallU. “A Decade of the Drinko.” (video). Posted March 5, 2010. Accessed January 2, 2020. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p6fQftp7cFg.
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Roguski, Randy. “John Deaver Drinko dies; guided growth of Baker Hostetler law firm.” The Plain Dealer. March 28, 2008. Accessed January 1, 2020. https://www.cleveland.com/business/2008/01/john_deaver_drinko_he_referred.html.
Wellman, Dave. “The John Deaver Drinko Library: A State of the Art Library Puts Technology to Work.” Huntington Quarterly. 1999. Accessed January 1, 2020. https://www.huntingtonquarterly.com/articles/issue33/marshalllibrary.html.
“Wilbur E. Myers Gallery of Glass Dedicated.” We Are… Marshall. March 22, 2002. Accessed January 1, 2020. https://mds.marshall.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1131&context=mu_newsletter.
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