Gertrude Kistler Memorial Library
Gertrude Kistler Memorial Library was founded in 1926 through the generosity of Mr. & Mrs. Sedgwick Kistler. Read on below for more information on the library, its history, mission, staff, and hours.
Gertrude Kistler Memorial Library is the campus center for academic research, study, and collaboration, and provides exemplary library services and information resources which are fully integrated with the College’s curriculum. Kistler’s librarians educate students to become skilled, effective, and ethical information users and work in close partnership with faculty and staff to support a holistic academic experience in and out of the classroom. Kistler’s Learning Commons model cultivates a welcoming environment staffed by effective, caring, and patron-focused professionals and a multitude of diverse, technology-enhanced spaces for learning, leisure, and collaboration. The Library responds effectively and innovatively to fast-paced changes at the College, within the higher education environment, and in the greater information science field. Through both its physical presence as well as its online resources, Kistler Library is the heart of Rosemont’s campus: a center for teaching and learning; a place to create, investigate, collaborate, discover, and grow; and a home for our entire community of lifelong learners.
The following goals support the College’s mission & strategic objectives:
- Support academic excellence in the classroom and beyond through comprehensive information literacy instruction, close collaboration with teaching faculty, and robust access to information and technology resources necessary for academic achievement.
- Provide safe, welcoming, and varied spaces where students can freely pursue academic research, independent work, and leisure according to their individual needs and aspirations.
- Foster equity, inclusion, and belonging in our community by partnering with affinity groups to develop responsive educational programs, exhibits, and collections which uplift diverse and underrepresented identities.
- Develop collections and services to support the intellectual growth of our students and the teaching and research capacity of our faculty.
- Increase the accessibility and attainability of higher education by supporting reduction in overall course costs and providing critical academic support to improve student success, persistence, and retention.
- Preserve and promote the College’s history, mission, and identity through the work of the Rosemont College Archives by documenting the experiences of Rosemont’s students and following best practices for records management, storage, and digitization.
- Design informative, engaging, and entertaining programming—including exhibits, displays, lectures, and discussions—on topics of interest to the wider Rosemont community, in close collaboration with the Friends of the Library and other partners and in overall support of the College’s mission and values.
Empowering through Diversity and Inclusion
Gertrude Kistler Memorial Library is committed to creating a diverse, inclusive, and safe environment for all students, faculty, staff, and community members, regardless of their race, gender or sexual identity, ethnicity, disability status, or creed. The Library provides access to information, spaces, programs, and work-study opportunities that promote equity, diversity, and inclusivity. We cultivate intercultural communication and exchanges of knowledge, with emphasis on uplifting underrepresented voices.
Upholding Academic Freedom
Gertrude Kistler Memorial Library wholeheartedly endorses the American Library Association’s Intellectual Freedom Principles for Academic Libraries: An Interpretation of the Library Bill of Rights, which outlines guiding principles for upholding the integrity of intellectual freedom in an academic library setting. Privacy, freedom of inquiry and expression, and accessibility are key tenets of the Library Bill of Rights and are reflected throughout Kistler Library’s policies, plans, and services.
In the summer of 1920, on a summer holiday with her parents, Gertrude Kistler, a student at St. Leonard's Academy in Philadelphia, was drowned in the Yosemite National Park. She was the Kistler's only child, and as the years passed, Mr. and Mrs. Kistler sought some fitting memorial for their little girl. A year after Gertrude's death, Rosemont College had been established. By 1925, some of the girls who had been Gertrude's friends were among its students. It was growing and full of promise, but also full of needs. Mr. and Mrs. Kistler proposed that they build a library in memory of Gertrude, to be called the Gertrude Kistler Memorial Library.
Thus it was that in the summer and autumn of 1925, grey-stone walls rose across the stretch of lawn from the Main Building. Mr. and Mrs. Kistler came often during those months to watch this growing memorial to their little daughter. When the outer structure was completed, Mrs. Kistler came almost daily to share in the selection of its interior appointments. At its formal opening in the spring of 1926, Gertrude's former friends, now students at the college, were gathered for the opening tea; Gertrude's favorite flowers were on the table. The occasion was beautiful but poignant.
In 1935, the library had outgrown its original facilities, and Mr. and Mrs. Kistler most generously agreed to add to the building. Once again, they gave not only money but also loving and generous concern about its every detail. They also contributed annually towards the purchase of books.
During these years, the ground floor of the library served as the college chapel, and was always referred to as the Kistler Chapel. When the beautiful Immaculate Conception Chapel was erected, Mr. and Mrs. Kistler gave the main altar. Thus their name continues to be associated with that deepest and most precious part of college life.
When the Kistlers died, within a few months of each other, in 1952, the college knew it had lost two very generous and cherished friends; but until the President and Trustees were informed that the college was named beneficiary of the greater part of the Kistler estate, they had no idea that once again the Kistlers were to become its signal benefactors. Since the library had again outgrown its facilities, no more appropriate use for this bequest could be found than a further addition to the library building. Once again, ground was broken. The new wing that rose through the spring and summer of 1954 more than doubled the existing building.
The library, as it now exists, thus stands as a memorial, not only to the child Gertrude, but to her parents, Mr. and Mrs. Sedgwick Kistler, to whose memory Rosemont College dedicated the new extension in grateful appreciation.
In 2010, a major renovation came to the first floor of the "new" wing of the Library, dedicated as the Remembering Sister Helen Weisbrod, SHCJ Information Commons. This work resulted in a new main doorway to the library and the opening up of a wide area in the 1954 addition. In the center are a large circular Information Desk, two computer areas, and a large area with comfy chairs and tables. At the far end are two glass-enclosed study rooms. At the other end of the space is Eleanor's Cafe where coffee, tea, and snacks are available for all library users.
Currently, further renovations are ongoing in the Library's lower level, clearing the way for Rosemont to continue honoring the Kistlers' gift by developing new innovative services and spaces for our students.
Timothy Jackson, PhD, MA
James Gravely '22
Kistler Library is open to visitors during regular business hours. Those wishing to checkout library materials or access library resources should join as a Friend of the Library. Friends and visitors alike should park in the visitor lot behind Kaul Hall.