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Last updated on April 23, 2014 at 21:24 EDT

Plans Launched For New Library And Collections Center

October 3, 2012

Lowell Observatory recently announced plans for a new Library and Collections Center which will house the Observatory’s extensive historical collections and provide much-needed library and office space for its growing science and support staff. To make this critical facility a reality, a public capital campaign was launched this month. More than $2,000,000 of the $3,000,000 campaign target has already been raised. Included in this goal is an endowment to support the maintenance and repair of the facility in perpetuity. Depending upon the success of this capital campaign, construction could begin as soon as Spring 2013. The planned location is near the Hendricks Planetary Science Building on Mars Hill.

Founded in 1894, and rich with groundbreaking astronomical history, the Observatory now keeps 118 years of priceless artifacts on Mars Hill, including the 1930 Pluto discovery plate and 32,000 other glass plate photographic images of the night sky. The collections also include more than 600 historic astronomical instruments including the spectrograph used in 1912 by V.M. Slipher to observe the first evidence of the expanding Universe via the world-famous Clark Telescope, which arrived at the Observatory in 1896.

In addition, the collections include: the influential papers of founder and Mars researcher Percival Lowell and of other renowned astronomers of the Observatory; Percival Lowell’s personal library; astronomers’ observation log books; rare books and publications; star atlases; and record drawings of historical telescopes and building facilities. The Observatory is indeed fortunate that generations of staff have saved and stored these documents and artifacts to provide future generations with the opportunity to understand the labors and lives of those who have worked on Mars Hill.

“The collections’ documents and artifacts, now stored in several different locations at the Mars Hill campus, will be consolidated in the repository of the new Collections Center Building,” says Lauren Amundson, Lowell’s librarian and archivist. “The collections’ storage area, with its temperature and humidity controls and fire-suppression system will provide a central, environmentally stable and physically secure space for our fragile and unique collections. A secure document and artifacts processing area and reading room will also be provided.”

The new building’s lobby will house “Big Red,” Percival Lowell’s 1911 Stevens Duryea touring car, as well as rotating exhibits of historical astronomical equipment. This lobby space will accommodate up to 30 visitors, have visual access into the collection repository, and will serve as a tour stop for the Observatory’s public programs. “The Collections Center will help us preserve and protect Lowell’s rich history and give the public a glimpse of some of the amazing items we have in the archives,” says Amundson.

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