King's receives $1 million donation in memory of Elizabeth Russell, former Chief Librarian
November 24, 2020
Elizabeth Russell made a big impact on library services at King’s during her 23-year career as a Librarian back in the 1970s, 80s and 90s. Now, posthumously, she will impact the library experience for current and future generations of students, faculty, staff and patrons of the G. Emmett Cardinal Carter Library. Following a fulfilling retirement in British Columbia, Russell died in 2013.
A $1 million donation from her estate, one of the largest individual gifts in King’s history, will ensure improved accessibility for all patrons, enhanced technology and improved study space. In recognition of this generous support, the first floor of the Library will be named the “Elizabeth Russell Achievement Centre.”
A valued member of the King’s staff from 1970 to 1993, Russell held a series of roles with increasing levels of responsibility at the Library, retiring as an award-winning Chief Librarian as the recipient of the Academic Librarianship Award (1993) from the Ontario Confederation of University Faculty Associations (OCUFA). During her tenure, plans were finalized to move the library from Wemple Hall to the new library building on the south side of Epworth Ave. Russell had a tremendous impact on the planning of the current Cardinal Carter Library. When the Library opened in 1995, it was a state-of-the art facility that provided access to the latest library information technology. Today, the Library remains a vital and valued space within the King’s community and is ready for a rejuvenation, again thanks to Russell and her stewardship.
“Elizabeth dedicated more than two decades of her career to King’s, and she was committed to the Library as the heart of the College. This donation honours her vision for the Cardinal Carter Library, and her legacy will benefit students for years to come,” says Ms. Eileen Fallows, speaking on behalf of Elizabeth Russell’s estate.
Dr. David Malloy, King’s Principal, expressed his gratitude for Russell’s service to King’s during her career and her legacy contribution to the future of the library. “Ms. Russell has demonstrated, through this generous gift, her continuous belief in being a responsible guardian of education. Little did she know the future needs of our students and the technological supports that would be necessary to further their education. However, she entrusted to us her belief in King’s and that we would be good stewards. I am so grateful for her leadership and honoured to see her positive impact on the community will continue,” says Dr. Malloy.
The renovation will involve a complete refitting of the beloved first floor to bring study space into the 21st century with improved access to technology required by contemporary scholarship. With the relocation of the traditional front service desk will come more community-based places to learn, collaborate and research including via technology pods. This donation will allow enhancement of spaces and services that will establish the Library as an accessible, inclusive and inspiring environment for learning, collaboration, creativity and student success activities.
To say the donation delights Library staff and leadership is an understatement. “I am very fortunate to be following in the footsteps of our former Chief Librarian, Elizabeth Russell, who was wholly dedicated to King’s and to the Library as the centre of the intellectual community. Like Elizabeth, King’s continues to be committed to ensuring that our students are successful, and part of that is providing them with the support and information they need to pursue their academic goals. Through her work, Elizabeth brought new, modern technologies and library spaces to the King’s community. This gift continues that effort by supporting the needs of a current and evolving community and will allow King’s to offer the infrastructure and resources for tomorrow’s students and researchers,” says Adrienne Co-Dyre, Director of Libraries.
One of the current King’s library staff who worked with Russell is Linda Whidden, Associate Librarian and Head: Technical and Information Resources. “Miss Russell, as she was known affectionately by her staff, was dedicated to building a community of practice that recognized the Library as a beacon for scholars and students alike to find a welcoming space to nurture their research and learning. How fitting it is that her estate is donating to the library at a time of great uncertainty by remodeling our library and preparing for the new way of delivering library services,” says Whidden.
While today’s students did not have the pleasure of knowing Russell, they certainly value the Cardinal Carter Library and the impact she has had on its current and future development. "For many students, the Library is the heart of campus. It is where students go to study, to conduct research and to connect with each other. I am so grateful that someone would like to honour the great contributions that the library had made to our campus in the past and will revitalize the library so that it will continue to be a special place for our students in the future,” says Ben Kitching, President, King's University College Students' Council
A celebration of Russell’s donation to the Cardinal Carter Library will be held upon completion of the Library enhancements, which is expected to occur during the 2021 calendar year and when it is safe to gather in person.