PROVO, Utah A library is the very heart and substance of a university, said President Gordon B. Hinckley Nov. 15.
Offering remarks before rededicating BYU's newly expanded Harold B. Lee Library, President Hinckley, with his counselors in the First Presidency President Thomas S. Monson and President James E. Faust lauded the new facility as a "precious temple of learning."
"Of all the wonderful buildings we have on this campus, none, I believe, is as important as the library," said President Hinckley to the more than 18,000 students, faculty and others attending the dedication in the BYU Marriott Center.
Originally the dedication had been scheduled to be held in the new library wing. However, school administrators felt the event was important enough to merit moving the dedication to a location that could accommodate all the students and BYU community members who wanted to attend.
After four years of construction, the 234,000-square-foot addition brings the Harold B. Lee Library's total square footage to 665,000. The library wing adds capacity for 1.7 million more books, 325 computer work stations, 1,600 more study spaces, eight technology-enhanced classrooms, a 200-seat auditorium and other facilities for distance education and technology-assisted learning.
While touring the new building before the dedication, President Hinckley viewed the computer work stations, auditorium, and millions of books picking up a volume of the Millennial Star, an early Church periodical. He sat down at one of the library's new study spaces and looked through the volume, walking down memory lane as he recognized the names of many of the men he has served with.
During his remarks, President Hinckley noted that he has visited some of the great libraries of the world, including the British Museum and the great library of the Vatican in Rome. "I constantly stand in awe as I reflect on the human quest for knowledge and understanding of man and his universe," he said. "Libraries become the depositories of all the knowledge that has gone before us."
President Hinckley said a book is "a marvelous thing."
"Books represent the accumulated workings of the human mind, the endless treasure of man's thoughts as he has contemplated himself and the phenomena with which he is surrounded," said President Hinckley. "How grateful I am for books and for those who have tenderly watched over and guarded them through the centuries."
In the new library, he said, "students through the generations will come and search, will discover and study great writings of the past which will lead to marvelous findings to bless the future."
President Hinckley added that he is profoundly grateful for the library addition the length of two and a half football fields and the size of 10 stake centers. He then dedicated the new building as a "center point for the great scholastic activities which occur on this campus."
"We dedicate it as a house of learning, where are kept millions of books, vast records and extensive facilities from which may be gathered the accumulated knowledge of the centuries as men and women have labored through the years to add to the great storehouse of knowledge."
During brief remarks, President Monson praised the man for whom the library is named: Harold B. Lee.
"President Lee had a great influence on me and my family," said President Monson, noting that "his influence will go on and on and on."
Like the Master, President Monson explained, Harold B. Lee was a teacher. "He reached people's hearts; he touched people's lives; his lessons live on."
President Monson recalled receiving his call to serve as a mission president in Canada at the very young age of 31. "President Lee stood and put his arms around Frances and me and said, 'Remember, remember my dear young friends, whom the Lord calls the Lord qualifies.' "
President Monson also told the students to use their beautiful new library. Quoting Emilie Poulsson he said, "Books are keys to wisdom's treasure; Books are gates to lands of pleasure; Book are paths that upward lead. Books are friends. Come, let us read."
During his remarks, President Faust recalled attending the groundbreaking of the new addition. At that time he quoted Shakespeare's Prospero from The Tempest who said, "From mine own library [are] volumes I prize above my dukedom." President Faust then commented that the new building would "cost as much as a small dukedom."
However, he said during the dedication that "having seen it, I have come to the conclusion it is more precious than a dukedom."
In this facility, he continued, there is much knowledge, wisdom, and comfort to be found. "In a sense," President Faust said, "a library is an indication of the enlightenment of the people."
BYU President Merrill J. Bateman conducted the dedication, offering remarks both at the ceremony and during a luncheon held before the meeting.
President Bateman emphasized technology will make the new library available to students at BYU-Idaho, BYU-Hawaii, and LDS Business College as well as hundreds of thousands of others around the world.
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