On August 14, 2019, the Carlyle Campbell Library paid tribute to Janet Freeman, who not only served as the Dean of the Library from 1984 through 2001, but was also an integral member of the Meredith community. In conjunction with Faculty and Staff Planning week, the library hosted its lighting round session highlighting updates and improvements to the library’s holdings and facilities. The session then transitioned in a room dedication program, renaming the library’s instruction classroom, formerly known as the LINC Center, The Freeman Room. The renaming honors Janet Freeman, whose endowment made these improvements possible.
While at Meredith, Janet Freeman was an accomplished leader of the library. In collaboration with other library employees, she moved the library from a card catalog to its first online library system. In fact, the library hosted the first Internet connection for Meredith as well. Under her leadership, the library’s book collection grew by 18%, subscriptions increased by over 300%, and audiovisual holdings by over 100%, and she oversaw the addition of the library’s first 71 databases. In addition to the growth in the library’s collection, during her tenure the number of librarians and staff employed by the library increased from 11 to 18 and she oversaw a comprehensive renovation of the building.
Freeman’s presence on Meredith’s campus was felt well beyond the walls of the library. Among her many services to the College, she was the director of the Meredith Ringers handbell choir and she served as the co-chair the 2000 reaffirmation of accreditation with SACS. She was honored in 1995 with the Laura Harrill Presidential Award from Meredith College for outstanding contributions to the College and its programs.
Outside the library, Freeman was a leader in the state. She served as North Carolina Library Association president. She was a gubernatorial appointee to the North Carolina Public Librarian Certification Commission and served as chair for eight years. Her honors include induction into Beta Phi Mu (the national library science honorary society) and North Carolina’s Order of the Long Leaf Pine.
Freeman left a lasting legacy in the Meredith community and her influence on the library will be strongly felt by generations for years to come. Upon her death, her gift to the library was an endowment with expenditures restricted to things outside the library’s normal budget. Since the library started using the endowment in 2010, over $441,000 has been spent on collection development, new electronic resources, improvements to the library building, and new equipment.
Thus far, the majority of endowment expenditures have been used on purchases of information resources–everything from books and films, to complete runs of significant publications. The library has also been able to purchase subscriptions to databases outside the scope of the budget including the Web of Science database (a major science, social science, and humanities citation database), the Times Literary Supplement backfiles (an online collection of 19th century newspapers), and additional JSTOR holdings.
The remaining endowment expenditures have been on special projects and on improvements to the library building. The library was able to purchase a face-up scanner (KIC Scanner) which has been quite popular with students and staff. The library was able to invest in an information discovery system that makes getting access to information more intuitive. The endowment provided funds for a grant to replace the library catalog and circulation system. Additionally, three major building projects have been able to happen because of these funds — a reconfiguration of book stacks on the ground and top floors to open new study spaces in 2010, the installation of an HVAC control system in 2012 that stabilized library temperatures and allowed for computer control of the thermostats, and, of course, the renovation of Freeman Room.
For the dedication ceremony of the Freeman Room, the library explored the archives in search of artifacts from Freeman’s long career at Meredith. Displayed around the room were a selection of photographs from her time here at Meredith, articles written by Freeman, and other memorabilia. Buttons were made to mark the occasion and memory cards were also provided for guests to write down their stories and memories of Janet Freeman that will then be added to the archival record about her.
When she worked at Meredith, she oversaw substantial improvements to the library and had a real impact on the state. Her endowment has ensured that she continues to improve the Carlyle Campbell Library in substantial ways. The entire Meredith community has, and will continue to, benefit from her many gifts. Renaming the library’s instruction classroom, the Freeman Room, gives the library a tangible way to express unending appreciation for her legacy. Thank you, Janet.