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The Roberta A. Smith University LibraryThe Roberta A. Smith University Library

With deep appreciation to all whose generosity made The Roberta A. Smith University Library possible, Muskingum University dedicated The Smith University Library on October 23.

The core of the building is the pre-existing c. 1960 library building which is now enveloped in 16,000 square feet of new construction to create a spacious 40,000 square foot structure.

It will open for regular use at the start of the spring semester on January 11.

The Smith University Library is modeled around the modern concept of an information commons, bringing together academic life and social life and infused everywhere with technology.

“It is a stunning building. I like to say, ‘It’s not your father’s library,’” explained Muskingum University President Anne C. Steele.

The new library has general and reference library collections including three special collections: children’s literature, United States Presidents, and regional, church and university history. Also housed within the building are seven classrooms, three reading rooms, three library information hubs, study spaces (with interactive projection technology to support collaboration), student lounge areas, a teacher preparation learning assessment center and library operations areas and offices.

In addition, Muskingum students have access through the Smith University Library’s system to 50 million books; 12,000 electronic journals; 150 research databases; a media center containing thousands of digital, educational films and documentaries, electronic images, maps and historical documents; and a center housing electronic theses and dissertations.

Roberta Ardnt Poland Smith paid tribute to her mother, Margaret Fleming Ardnt Poland, Class of 1909, and her father, Chester Harrison Poland, with her commitment to the library’s construction.

Margaret Fleming Arndt, 1889-1967, returned to her hometown of Hanover, Ohio to teach following her graduation from Muskingum. Chester Harrison Poland, 1889-1966, was a decorated World War I veteran of the United States Marine Corps who received the Croix de Guerre with Bronze Star from the government of France for his bravery during the battles of October 1918. Margaret and Chester married in 1920 and settled in Indianapolis, Indiana, where they raised two daughters, Roberta Arndt Poland Smith and Jo Ann Poland Young.

Roberta A. Smith, 1921-2014, graduated in 1942 from Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana. In 1944 she married Robert Garnet Smith, 1910-1991. In 1945 they moved to Florida where Robert was self-employed in the real estate industry and Roberta was a teacher and librarian until her retirement in 1978. She was an enthusiastic traveler and a constant reader. Inspired by her mother Margaret’s lifelong appreciation for the education she received at Muskingum, Roberta created a legacy which will enrich the educational opportunities for generations of Muskingum students who pass through the doors of this University Library.

THE LOUIS O. PALMER GALLERYThe Louis O. Palmer Gallery

The new Louis O. Palmer Gallery, dedicated on October 11, 2013 is the final keystone of Muskingum’s Studio Arts Complex. It is located between historic Paul Hall – home to the two-dimensional art program – and the Ruth and John Neptune Center – home to the three-dimensional art program.

The Palmer Gallery is a teaching gallery designed to showcase the work of Muskingum students, faculty, alumni, and guest artists.  It features a central gallery, auxiliary spaces to support events, and environmentally-friendly solar panels to help support its electricity consumption.

The Palmer Gallery was built through the generosity of Muskingum alumni and named in honor and memory of Louis Orton Palmer III (1915-1997), Muskingum Professor of Art from 1956-1981.



LOUIS O. PALMERProfessor Louis O. Palmer earned his Bachelor of Arts degree from Lake Forest College, with a major in speech and a minor in romantic languages and English.  He earned his Master of Music degree from the University of Chicago, and completed further studies in music at the American Academy in Fontainebleau, France, where his teachers included the noted composers Igor Stravinsky and Nadia Boulanger. 

During World War II, he served with the U.S. Army in North Africa and Italy as a band master and liaison to the French Army.  Prior to joining Muskingum, Professor Palmer taught at Lake Forest College and in Italy, and served as music critic for the Chicago Sun Times, the Chicago broadcast station WFMT, and for the national music magazine Musical America.

A larger-than-life personality, he was known as Il Professore across campus and in town.  In the words of Ann G. Wilmoth ’67:  “the Caribinieri cape and Borsalino hat, the ring and the dog, he would live without not a one of them.” She noted that “in the years between 1956 and 1981 more Muskingum students were taught by Louis Palmer than by any other single professor, perhaps in all of Muskingum’s history.”

His charge, as recalled by Ms. Wilmoth – “Look up, look at the world around you; There is beauty everywhere; all you need do is look for it” –became an inspiration for his students and an enduring legacy of his teaching. For gallery hours and a complete schedule of events, click here.