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Michael Sillerman in the Kroch Library rotunda

Michael Sillerman '68 in the rotunda of Kroch Library; he is funding a complete makeover of the space. A naming ceremony was held there March 27. Photo: Robert Barker/University Photography.

Kroch Library rotunda now a circle of honor

Michael Sillerman with Joyce Lowinson, Robert F.X. Sillerman and Laura Baudo Sillerman

From left, Sillerman's cousin Joyce Lowinson; Sillerman; his brother, Robert F.X. Sillerman; and his sister-in-law, Laura Baudo Sillerman, at the March 27 rotunda naming ceremony. Photo: Robert Barker/University Photography.

Kroch Library's rotunda has hosted some of the university's most iconic archival materials: the Gettysburg Address written in Abraham Lincoln's handwriting, the Cornell Papyrus, E.B. White's typewriter – some so valuable they're exhibited only under the watchful eyes of an armed guard. Visitors have been moved to tears looking at some of the items on display there.

But the little round alcove in Kroch Library wasn't designed as a display space. When Kroch opened in 1992, the rotunda was intended simply to be an entryway to the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections (RMC). In fact, originally, it was simply an architectural alternative to a sharp corner.

Now the rotunda will come into its own.

Thanks to a donation from Michael Sillerman '68, the space will get a complete makeover.

Plans include new LED lighting, which will protect the archival materials, conserve energy and allow visitors to see the displays better. Exhibition cases will also be custom-designed for the space and a digital sign will be mounted to promote RMC's collections and services.

Michael Sillerman with Justine Guariglia and Deborah Lipton

Sillerman, center, at the March 27 rotunda naming ceremony with gift planning officer Justine Guariglia, left, and giving officer Deborah Lipton, right. Photo: Robert Barker/University Photography.

The rotunda also will bear Sillerman's name.

"To contribute to this space where we periodically display Cornell's treasures -- it's almost beyond belief to think that I could give back to Cornell in a way that contributes to that," Sillerman says. "As someone who is passionately involved in the collection of books and the life of the book, the opportunity to support and name a portion of that library is incredibly meaningful to me."

Sillerman, an attorney in New York City who has been a member of the Library Advisory Council since 2004, visited Cornell March 27 to participate in the rotunda naming.

"With his generous gift, we're going to make this space worthy of the materials it showcases," says Anne R. Kenney, the Carl A. Kroch University Librarian.

Gwen Glazer is the staff writer/editor and social media coordinator for Cornell University Library.

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