by Raneen El-Barbarawi / Staff Reporter
As the new smell of carpet and Anne Frank quotes spiraled throughout the library on the 10th floor of the auditorium building, students and staff joined together to commemorate Anne Frank’s 90th birthday, as well as the founding of Roosevelt University.
With the start of the new spring semester, the library implemented many new innovations to not only its physical scenery, but also to help the student experience.
Estevan Montano, the director of libraries, said that “these renovations and the new things coming into the library were overdue, and it’s really great to see that we’re starting to revive a library with new furniture, carpeting and technology so they actually meet the needs of the curriculums of the programs and the students.”
“It’s really important that we keep up to date with what faculty and students want and I think the library is really keeping pace with that,” he said, adding that he has contributed to these changes by looking at the process of how to best outfit the spaces of the library, as well as collaborate with other leaders.
“My favorite thing is actually the behind-the-scenes stuff that leads to the changes we can see. Estevan works with all departments within the university to find out what they need; he works to ensure that the library and its staff support the academic goals of the faculty and student population, and it shows,” said Melanie Hirsch, a senior library technical assistant.
Not only has the library enacted many new changes to better ensure student experience, it has also displayed the “Anne Frank: A History for Today” exhibit that is said to take place from January 27 to March 8.
Montano explained that he has been planning and collaborating with the history department at Roosevelt for over a year now to showcase this exhibit.
“People are starting to forget the Holocaust and also the identity and legacy of Anne Frank, so we felt it was important for us to showcase this exhibit here, because the legacy of Anne Frank is timeless, but it also ties into Eleanor Roosevelt as well,” said Montano, adding that Eleanor Roosevelt wrote the famous introduction to the published diary of Anne Frank.
Margaret Rung, the director of Center of New Deal studies and the history program, explained that this is the second exhibit that the center and Murray-Green Library have co-sponsored in the last year. This exhibit essentially follows thematically from the one that they brought to the library on the Wannsee Conference, which was the conference of high ranking Nazi officials that mapped out the Holocaust in 1942.
“I think the exhibit opens people’s eyes to the larger story of Anne Frank. It’s easy to see the Anne Frank diary as the tragic experience of one girl, but when you start reading the exhibit, you realize there’s a much broader context for understanding how larger forces are impacting the life of Anne and her family,” said Rung, adding that she is team-teaching a travel abroad course on WWII in which she will take her students to visit the Anne Frank house and museum in May.
“I urge everyone to come and take a look at the exhibit,” said Rung. “I think it’s very thought provoking and tears at one’s heartstrings, but I think it’s going to spark a conversation about what happens when people start to engage in extremist rhetoric and behavior, and how we all need to be very mindful that this can lead in a very tragic direction.”
Indeed, there have been flyers posted all around the library explaining the goals of the Anne Frank exhibit, as well as informing students about upcoming events such as a Broadway performance, a presentation, movie night and even a discussion with a Holocaust survivor.
“I hope people don’t miss this opportunity because it’s becoming more rare to listen and hear from a Holocaust survivor,” said Montano.