Denkmann Memorial Library - Augustana College



    Pen and Ink Sketch with Watercolor - Erwin Weber - 1980


In January 1909, the children of Mr. And Mrs. Denkmann announced that they would give a library to Augustana College in memory of their parents according to Glen E. Brolander, author of the book, Augustana College, An Historical Survey of the Campus, Revised 1992. Frederick Denkmann, a native of Germany, was a pioneer Rock Island lumber man, who, with his brother-in-law, Frederick Weyerhaeuser, formed the Weyerhaeuser-Denkmann Lumber Company. The building was designed in classical revival style with Roman arches in the windows, Doric columns, tiled roof with classical soffit and cornices. In 1911, there were 24,000 volumes in the College collection, then located in Old Main. Denkmann was built to accommodate a much larger library. In addition to the library function, the President's Office and the Business Office were on the first floor of the building, and other administrative functions were located in part of the basement.

When the College and Seminary separated in 1948, the books and archives were divided with the result that part of the former Augustana Library is now in the collections of the Lutheran School of Theology at Chicago. For over 50 years, the library served the College's needs without major modification. In the early 1960's, it had nearly 150,000 volumes in its collection and the student body was increasing rapidly. Therefore, .in order to keep the outer appearance of the structure unchanged, the library was expanded underground with a 47' x 112' addition. Thus the shelving capacity was increased from 150,000 volumes to 240,000. Other features of the remodeling pan included moving the librarian's office to the first floor where the President's Office was located. Seating capacity within the building was increased to 510 including 100 study carrels in the stack and two large reading rooms seating over 150 readers each.

In the early 1980's, it was again obvious that further expansion of the library facilities was needed. It was decided the Denkmann Memorial Library, which had served the college so well for 75 years, could not be adapted to meet future needs. In 1988, construction began on a $12 million library building located on the hillside in the center of the campus. Denkmann provided space for the Swenson Swedish Immigration Research Center, the Modern Language Departments with its language laboratories, classrooms and offices, and a mid-size concert and lecture hall seating up to 350 people.