The University’s need for a dedicated library facility had been a pressing concern for many years before librarian Br. David Martin, C.S.C., wrote a strongly worded article published in the February 1943 edition of The Bookman, stating: “The greatest need of the University of Portland is a new Library. The need is so great that it is actually holding back the general advancement of the University.” He and the University’s library collection would languish in the basement of Christie Hall for the next 12 years, however, before a special committee of Friends of the Library began a drive in February 1955 to raise funds for a new library. Headed by Portland businessman Edgar W. Smith, the committee raised $88,000 in direct contributions and pledges in less than a month; the total goal at that time was $150,000.
Plans submitted by Portland architectural firm Wolff and Zimmer made it clear that more funds would be needed; the University’s president, Rev. Howard Kenna, C.S.C., secured a major gift from the Ford Foundation. Construction began on the $377,000 structure and it was opened in 1958, named in honor of benefactor Maurie Clark’s father, Wilson W. Clark. The library’s dedication may well have been the happiest day of Br. David’s life; he was still librarian and would be for many more years, thankfully above ground. Because of its elegant simplicity, the library won the American Institute of Architects award as the best major building erected in Oregon in 1959.
For more University history see the University Almanac at www.up.edu/almanac.