The Chester Fritz Library
One of many aisles of books to explore
The street view of the Chester Fritz Library
Backstory and Context
This monumental structure finds its origin in the incredible legacy of Mr. Fritz, one of the most notable donors to the university. Born in Buxton, North Dakota in 1892, Chester was the only child born of Charles and Anne (Belanger) Fritz. As he entered early adulthood, Fritz was self-sufficient and accumulated praise as his class’ valedictorian, thus his love for learning was most obvious and modeled similar habits for others. While enrolled at the University of North Dakota, Fritz’s involvement in As Altoria Literary Society and the Varsity Bachelor’s Club fostered his love for the campus and its excellence. Upon attending a UND alumni dinner in 1950, Fritz issued the campus a $10,000 check for the University of North Dakota Development Fund. Donations would continue to escalate in financial value and accumulate to $2.25 million dollars over the span of nineteen years. Ecstatic at the dedication of the new library in his name, Fritz was present at the dedication ceremony for the library during Homecoming festivities on October 13th of 1961.
The initial structure of the building featured a 70,000 square foot floor space accommodated by the 82-foot tower that defines the campus in modern times. Grants from the state of North Dakota allowed for the addition of 88,000 feet to the original structure. Suiting the varying needs of students, the library initially featured 300,000 books and allowed for 700-800 students to occupy its space. As the building continued to grow in popularity and resources, it reached the impressive number of 1.4 million prints available. These numbers would continue to grow as multiple renovations would improve space efficiency and accumulation of books would increase the variety of books available to students. Recent renovations, beginning in 2016, have made the library more attractive and suited to modern styles. Delegation of the university’s finances has dedicated around $1 million dollars for the continued project. Access to virtual databases has allowed for information beyond 300,000 books to be easily utilized. The Chester Fritz has ownership of 20,000 electronic books and subscribes to around 28,000 online journals.
Upon entering the building, students ascend the stairs and can reside in the open “fishbowl” room, with floor-to-ceiling windows, comfortable furniture, and a fireplace on the second floor. The third and fourth floor are alike in that they house countless books upon shelves and feature study rooms. Fourth floor is significant in the fact that one side is dedicated to the UND Special Collections exhibit, which preserves historic documents pertaining to the university and its prominent figures. These many assets of the library assist in its service to the university and its students.
“Chester Fritz is ‘Coming Home’ for New Library’s Dedication.” (1961). The University of North Dakota Alumni Review. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
Fritz, C. & Rylance D. (1982). Ever Westward to the Far East: The Story of Chester Fritz by Chester Fritz and Dan Rylance. Retrieved April 19, 2021.
Hoffman, D. (n.d.). Chester Fritz Library Undergoes Renovations. Retrieved April 22, 2021, from https://dakotastudent.com/9241/arts-comm/chester-fritz-library-undergoes-renovations/
The Fritz at 50: UND's Library Evolves with Students' Needs. (2011, October 12). Retrieved April 19, 2021, from https://www.grandforksherald.com/news/2163453-fritz-50-unds-library-evolves-students-needs