SMU is announcing plans to move forward with renovation of Bridwell Library, one of the University’s most visible libraries and one of the United States’ preeminent theological libraries. Funding secured from the J.S. Bridwell Foundation is enabling the $6.1 million renovation project to move forward.
“We are very grateful to the Bridwell Foundation for partnering with SMU since the late 1940s to make Bridwell Library a center of excellence in providing services and resources for theological education and theological reflection,” said SMU President R. Gerald Turner. “As we look forward to this next chapter in Bridwell Library’s development, we cannot overstate the critical importance of the Foundation’s ongoing vision and support to ensure the Library’s stature and quality.”
“The Foundation is pleased to be able to continue to support the vision of J. S. Bridwell and his daughter, Margaret Bridwell Bowdle, far into the future,” said Bridwell Foundation President Mac Cannedy. “They would be proud of where Bridwell Library has come since they first envisioned it, and equally pleased with the direction it will go in the future with this latest renovation.”
Planned renovations include structural improvements to the facility to allow better accessibility for patrons, especially those with wheelchairs and other special needs. Students, faculty and scholars will gain new spaces for study, research and gathering, as well as instructional areas for teaching and presentations. The library will also add new features to enhance service spaces and overall user experience.
With more than 380,000 volumes, Bridwell Library houses one of the nation’s finest research collections in theology and religious studies. Its collection of rare books and manuscripts includes more than 50,000 items dating from the 15th to the 20th centuries. Among the special collections are the Elizabeth Perkins Prothro Bible Collection and the largest collection in the United States of manuscript letters written by John Wesley.
While it primarily serves Perkins School of Theology, Bridwell Library is also the principal bibliographic resource at SMU for the fields of theology and religious studies. In addition, it is an important resource for other university programs and for the extended religious, academic and bibliographic communities.
“Bridwell Library is vital to the strength and reputation of the Perkins School. These important capital improvements will greatly benefit students, faculty, and all who utilize the library’s outstanding resources,” said Perkins Dean Craig C. Hill.