Thompson Library Celebrates 20 Years in New Facility

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This fall we celebrate not one, but two milestones for the Frances Willson Thompson Library; the 20th anniversary of our beautiful building as well as the 20th anniversary of our participation with the UM-Ann Arbor based MIRLYN system.

Atrium, Thompson Library, Dedication Ceremony, 10-14-94

Back on October 14, 1994, we hosted the dedication ceremony for the new Thompson Library in our beautiful Atrium.

While it wasn’t yet entirely completed — some furniture, shelving and a touch or two of paint was still needed — it was a fabulous new home for our resources, librarians and users.

Hosting the ceremonies, which included several local dignitaries and

Senator Reigle
Senator Reigle

UM-Flint administrators, was a high point in our history, but the path to opening the Frances Willson Thompson Library facility was a long and circuitous one for our campus.

Our history began in 1956 when the new UM-Flint campus and the then Flint Junior College opted to share a library collection to be housed in the new Mott Memorial Building.

Congressman Dale Kildee
Congressman Dale Kildee

The book collection of both colleges was then available to the students and faculty of either college.

The dual library opened in August 1957.   While each institution retained ownership of its own books, all items were held and housed and maintained jointly in the combined library facilities.

In February of 1958, a plan was approved for a new Mott College (then Flint JC) building that would house the consolidated collection of both colleges.

Charles Stewart Mott
Charles Stewart Mott

C.S. Mott gave more than one million dollars for the construction of the building, emphasizing the importance of a library as the heart of an educational institution.

The collection moved into the new building in the fall of 1960.

In 1974, UM-Flint developed a master building plan which lead to the first building on the Flint campus, known as the Classroom & Office Building (CROB), later named in honor of Dean David French as French Hall.

CROB was completed and opened in January 1977, with the UM-Flint library collection moved to the 5th floor by 1978.

The library was to remain in this “temporary location” (plus the “library annex” located beneath the Harrison Street parking ramp) for the next 16 years.

UM-Flint hired David Palmer as its first Director of the Library in 1975.

Mr. Palmer’s primary directive at this time was to oversee the drafting of a plan and construction of a new library building.

Like Moses before him, Mr. Palmer did not enjoy the fruits of those dreams and plans as he retired in the early 90s, before construction of the new building even began.

Robert Houbeck, Director, Thompson Library, 10-14-94
Robert Houbeck, Director, Thompson Library, 10-14-94

In 1991, Robert Houbeck, formerly Head of Serials & Book Acquisitions within the UM Library systems on the Ann Arbor campus, was hired to replace Mr. Palmer.




Upon his arrival, Mr. Houbeck was thrown headlong into the planning stages of a new facility, working with the architectural firm that had designed the new underground Law Library in Ann Arbor, Gunnar Birkerts & Associates.

Joanne Sullenger, Vice-Chancellor of Development, University of Michigan-Flint
Joanne Sullenger, Vice-Chancellor of Development, University of Michigan-Flint
Frances Willson Thompson
Frances Willson Thompson

Thanks to the fund raising efforts of Vice Chancellor for Development, Joanne Sullenger, and the generosity of many donors — most notably Frances Willson Thompson — our new library facility was finally competed.




Our library celebrated its 20th anniversary in the new building this fall.

F. W. Thompson Library, University of Michigan-Flint


We look forward to future growth and change that will lead us into an exciting future providing students, faculty and staff access to the latest information resources available in the world.

Future Star


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