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Watson Library Receives Unique Gifts

New Service Desk and Theatre Book Collection Unveiled

November 14, 2013

Emeritus professor Lewis Marcuson peruses theatre books in Watson Library's newly designated Lewis Marcuson Collection.

Emeritus professor Lewis Marcuson peruses theatre books in Watson Library's newly designated Lewis Marcuson Collection.

Watson Library unveiled a new loan service desk and a new collection of theatre-related books earlier this fall — both gifts from “special friends of the library with strong Wilmington College connections,” according to Jean Mulhern, library director.

Thirey Cabinet Makers of Wilmington designed and built the new “finely crafted” desk, which replaced one installed more than a half century ago. Lewis Marcuson, emeritus professor of English, and his family donated a 1,000-title theatre arts collection from his massive personal collection.

Mulhern noted how the desk project started with a jar in which library patrons were invited to offer spare change, “Silver for the Service Desk.” She said that, in addition to the coin jar, the craftsmanship donated by Thirey Cabinet Makers (Dan and Nate Thirey) and a significant gift from the Streber Family Foundation, in memory of Robert and Joellen ’71 Streber, made the desk a reality.

Other donors were D. Neil Snarr, professor emeritus of social and political studies; the daughters of Ruth McKay Pidgeon, Class of ’35 (Ellen Gilbert ’61, Rachel Pidgeon and Margaret Raabe); and Rachel Pidgeon in memory of Edwyna Stanforth Ellis ’49 and Henrietta Miller Collett ’33.

Mulhern noted that the Thirey brothers’ design for the desk, with its bow front, custom maple stain, and prominent display of the Wilmington College’s official seal provides an updated “wow factor.”

Students, faculty and guests have all complimented the change and the many student workers and their supervisor, Joni Streber, manager of Loan Services, most appreciate the functional storage drawers and shelves and the increased counter space.

One student told Mulhern that she feels so much more professional when she reports to work behind the desk.

(LEFT) Pictured from the left at the new service desk are: library director Jean Mulhern, emeritus professor Neil Snarr, Woody Lehman and Nate Thirey of Thirey Cabinet Makers, and Joni Streber of Watson Library.


When Marcuson, a faculty member from 1957 to 2002, moved out of his condominium, he decided to donate his collection of some 4,500 books to the College library. While other books have become integrated into the Watson general collection and into the library collections of Wilmington’s consortium partners, it was decided that the quantity and quality of Marcuson’s theatre books merited a prominent location on the main level.

A team including Wynn Alexander, professor of theatre, along with librarians, staff and students, made the selections. Also, the Marcuson family employed WC students to process and catalog the books under library staff supervision.

“It’s an amazing, marvelous collection,” said Alexander, who helped unveil the Lewis Marcuson Collection. A wall plaque honors Marcuson’s “leadership and dedication” and notes his years of service to WC.

Mulhern said that she placed the Marcuson Collection to be visible to all who enter the library because it provides such an “attractive and functional backdrop for the library’s major study area.” Shelving in that area had been vacated as print journal subscriptions were replaced by online access.

“Once on the shelves, the books began circulating immediately,” she said. “Non-theater majors have even been seen browsing the collection.”

Special bookplates are featured in each volume of the collection. They were based upon a design created by Marcuson’s father when he donated books to WC in the 1960s.

Marcuson’s sister, Doris Sopher, joined him at the dedication ceremony.

“What a lovely tribute to Lew and his love of books,” she said. “These books have a new home at Wilmington College.”