By Juanita I.C. Traughber, Communication Director
Fifteen years ago this day, then-eighth grader Ethan ’09, John ’75, Tricia, and Heidi Hassenfeld stood in what is now the High School social studies hallway and cut a ribbon to officially open the Hassenfeld Library
The three-story building replaced Peabody Demonstration School’s original Payne Library Room
to serve as “a first-rate library to support an academically ambitious curriculum… something truly distinctive in response to our setting and our needs,” Vince Durnan wrote in his first newsletter column in December 1999 before formally setting foot on campus as Director and before the school began its $15 million capital campaign for the library, arts building, and endowment.
Construction began on the K-12 library on June 16, 2003 with a groundbreaking for the building designed by architects David Plummer ‘86 and Jim Compton of Everton Oglesby Architects PLLC and constructed by USN parent and general contractor Quick Foy (Elizabeth ’97 and Suzanne ’00) of American Constructors.
Today the Hassenfeld Library is home to 29,806 books as well as the school archives. Upholding their traditional purpose, the library and its six staff develop collections, provide resources to support curriculum, teach research skills, provide access to technology and global information.
Much more than providing resources, the Hassenfeld Library serves as a gathering spot designed to connect and serve the entire school community. Over the years, the 20,000-square-foot space has lent itself to Lower School book parties, Commencement and visiting author receptions, displays of fifth grade fantasy kingdoms, character pumpkins, and other school projects as well as many meetings for studying, curriculum planning, and fundraising preparation.
Study rooms have been added and subdivided to give small groups additional spaces to collaborate. A new conference room was built in a previously underutilized space opposite the school Archives on the third floor East Mezzanine in 2019. On the West Mezzanine, collections have been reduced and reconfigured and bulky shelving replaced with study desks for students. Even a charging station has been added in a corner for students to power cell phones and laptops. Donations from the three-day Fall Book Frenzy
sale have been used to purchase a first-floor hydration station, new furniture, and computer upgrades.
The former Payne Library was divided and remains a classroom for Lower School Spanish and a multipurpose room for meetings and classes.