The Library Learning Commons is thrilled to have an exciting new space on the lower level. The Richards Media Lab boasts a wide range of software and equipment for artistic and musical pursuits. This new room was made possible through a generous donation by Frances Hess Richards. Mrs. Richards and her husband Wilbur “Eby” Richards have long been generous donors to Chadron State College.
Mrs. Richards graduated from Chadron State Teachers College with a bachelor of science in education degree in 1944. For the next three years, she spent the school year teaching in Nebraska schools and the summers working towards her library degree at the University of Denver. After brief stints as a High School Librarian in Brookings, SD, and a Cataloguer at University of Minnesota, Mrs. Richards returned to her alma mater to serve as the Assistant Librarian from 1948-1955. At that time, the Chadron State Library was located in the building that now houses the Mari Sandoz High Plains Heritage Center and C.F. Coffee Gallery. All of the books were stored in closed stacks in the basement. In order to check out a book, the student would need to provide the citation from the card catalog and give it to the librarian. The librarian would then send this call slip to the basement on a dumbwaiter, where a student would retrieve the book and send it back up.
It was here at Chadron State that she met her husband, who was working at the FAA Flight Service Station. The couple would joke that he came to the library looking for a book, but left with a librarian. Over the course of their marriage, the Richards lived in such varied places as Arizona, Nebraska, Alaska, and Cairo, Egypt.
In her will, Mrs. Richards left the Library Learning Commons $100,000, with the stipulation that this money should be used to create a media center. The LLC is fulfilling this request by gradually transforming LLC 107 into a modern media lab. The lab includes listening stations, CDs, art software, drawing tablets, and even an electronic piano! The room also boasts an Oculus Rift, a virtual reality headset. The LLC designed the Richards Media Lab as a space for students to independently explore their creative and musical sides.