Mission & History


The Crown Library is an integral part of the culture and community of Dominican University. Its mission is in harmony with the Dominican University Mission: to pursue truth, give compassionate service, and contribute to a more just and humane world. The mission of the Rebecca Crown Library mandates the academic support of students, faculty, and staff for resources and services. In addition to supplying print and electronic materials, services such as reference, circulation, interlibrary loan and instruction provide means through which the Dominican University Mission may be realized.


The current library building was dedicated on April 11, 1972.
Click here (1 MB pdf) to view the brochure that was published at the time of the dedication.

The library is named for Rebecca Kranz Crown, the wife of Colonel Henry Crown, Chicago philanthropist, and the library’s principal benefactor. Rebecca Kranz Crown was born in Chicago on February 13, 1900. She married on August 12, 1920 and died on October 31, 1943.

The Old Library – The Phyllis Skiffington Noonan Reading Room

In the summer of 1922 when St. Clara College, Sinsinawa, Wisconsin, moved to River Forest, Illinois, and adopted its new name, Rosary College, the nucleus for the library came with it.

The first reference books were dispensed form packing cases on the third floor of Power Hall. The library opened in October. Essential books were shelved for the first time in the third floor lobby, then the library moved to what is now the sisters’ community room and a nearby stack room.

The beautiful wing called Mazzuchelli Building was principally built to house the library. It was designed by Ralph Adams Cram and executed by his associate, Mr. Charles W. Kallal. The entire second floor was intended for the library — two huge rooms with high arched ceilings. But the separate building planned for a chapel was never achieved, and one of the rooms was, and still is, used as the chapel. The library occupied one large room, with adjacent stack space, for forty years, from 1931-1971.

Sister Mary Reparata Murray was the first librarian, and she established the School of Library Science in 1930.

The Rebecca Crown Library – 1972-2002

The Indiana limestone and Graylite glass building is contemporary in style, shaped like a St.Andrew’s cross, and linked on the east to Lewis Memorial Hall. The main entrance and lobby are in the glass-walled area between the new structure and Lewis. Diagonal placement of the building gives a feeling of space and avoids direct views across narrow court areas.

Inside, at the building’s center, daylight streams down from a roof skylight upon a circular staircase, spiraling up through three floors. The open stairwell visually ties the floors together, relating the different sections of the library. This central area is fully open on the west, through two-story high windows, to a view of the wooded campus beyond a terrace with a small fountain.

The Graduate School of Library Science was one self-contained unit on the ground floor, with the three floors above devoted to the library, used by 800 undergraduate students in the liberal arts coed college as well as 400 graduate students in the library science school.

The graduate school had several convenient entrances, while all library traffic, in and out, passes the charging desk.

Rebecca Crown Library Building Data – 1972

Architects Perkins & Will Corporation
Consultant Frazer Poole
General Contractor Kiendl Construction Company
Cost $2,718,000 including equipement and furniture
Floor Area 76,656 sq. ft.
Cost Per Square Foot $35.46
Interior Designers Miller Associated Limited
Card Catalog Jens Risom Design, Inc.
Book Stacks Estey Corporation
Furniture Steelcase, Inc.
Seating Carrels: 242; Tables: 228; Lounge: 35; Miscellaneous: 63.
Books Total volume capacity, 260,000

Library Renovation 2000-2002

The first plans for renovating the library, originally opened in 1970, began in 1994. As time passed it became apparent that a more extensive renovation than first envisioned was appropriate. The final design resulted in an eight million dollar project that called for completely redoing the library. The plan was to re-develop the library, restoring it to the center of student life. The goal has been to change the academic landscape of the campus by combining social and intellectual activities in a building combining technology with teaching, creating a model for the small academic library. The new design created a more open environment, with greater accessibility between the library and the campus-at-large. Students are now able to enter and exit freely on each of the library’s three floors, providing ready access to classrooms in the adjoining building. This development makes the library a more integral part of Dominican academics, and presents a wonderful opportunity to interact more often with students.

Improving this physical and intellectual space required a new level of technological capability never dreamed of thirty years ago. Installing an adequate technology infrastructure put the university in a strong position to improve classrooms. All colleges and universities face the problems of aging classrooms. It is a struggle to provide teaching and learning technology to our buildings, some of which are 80 years old. Now, with the library renovation, we had the golden opportunity to add the technological infrastructure necessary to support high-end equipment – now and in the future. To this end, the renovated library houses a series of high-tech classrooms.

They include:

  • Five enhanced classrooms on the third floor, networked for resident teacher PCs. Each classroom also contains a mounted projector, VCR and DVD player, document camera, and sound system. One classroom houses a total of 25 PCs for student use. One large tiered classroom seats 45 students, with all desks wired for PCs. Two of these classrooms have satellite capability.
  • Some years ago the university installed three similarly equipped rooms in Lewis Hall. Library media services delivers equipment to other classrooms, all of which are networked. Virtually all classrooms are equipped with resident VCRs. In 2005, the library purchased three “enhanced classrooms on a cart,” including networked PCs, projectors, VCR/DVDs and document cameras. Three additional such units were added at the start of the 2006 fiscal year.
  • On the second floor, a multimedia production classroom room houses 18 PCs, a Macintosh lab, all the equipment of the enhanced classrooms as well as scanners, printers, and video and digital cameras. Students have the ability to burn their own CD’s.
  • A training room on the first floor is available for information literacy instruction. This training room has a satellite receiver, the enhanced classrooom equipment and 24 PCs for student use.
  • Two meeting rooms on the lower level are equipped with the enhanced classroom set-ups, and are satellite capable.

The addition of the cyber café on the lower level has served to enliven the library. Anticipated problems with food and drink have not materialized. Undergraduates, faculty and staff are attracted to this café; students then proceed to the nearby PCs with their coffee. Faculty often stop for a word with the librarian at the reference desk, now located in the lower level very near the cyber café. Noise is occasionally a problem, but the university has succeeded in transforming the library into a social as well as intellectual hub and quiet study areas have been established in the Noonan Reading Room and group study rooms on the second floor. A major improvement, possible because of the expanded infrastructure, is the increase in student work stations. The library now houses sixty desktop PCs, network connections on all floors for students’ own laptops, and wireless capability on all floors of the library. The renovation has proven so successful, that the library expanded its hours to accommodate student needs.

Rebecca Crown Library Building Data – 2002-2006

Architects Frye, Gillin, Molinaro
Consultant Civil : Graff, Anhalt, SchloemerMechanical : Calor Design Group, Ltd.Electrical : Radiant Design, LLC
General Contractor Bulley & Andrews, LLC
Cost $8,000,000 (approx.)
Floor Area 76,656 sq. ft.
Cost Per Square Foot $104.00 (approx.)
Interior Designers Frye, Gillan, Molinaro
Book Stacks Bradford (Moveable)
Furniture Manager : Agati Primary Workspace Installer : Kimball
Seating Carrels : 16Tables : 92Lounge : 50Computers : 51Microfiche : 2Study Rooms : (4 rooms) seats 26Patio : 8Computer Lab : seats 24.
Books Over 300,000
Periodicals Print : 1183Electronic : 16,309
Periodical Databases 130

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