By Hallie Graham / Editor-in-Chief
32,727 books. 60+ databases. 20 years. On Nov. 18, the Ann Scott Carell Library celebrated 20 years of information and collaboration on the Harpeth Hall campus. An innovative teaching space, the library was dedicated and opened to students 20 years ago.
In 1999, Ann Scott Carell, a Harpeth Hall parent, grandparent and trustee, as well as Monroe Carell made an initial pledge to Harpeth Hall of $5 million, specifically allotted for building a 20,000 square-foot library.
“She was a great advocate for all-girls education,” Director of Information Services Molly Rumsey said in the library’s commemoration video. “The initial gift of $5 million from the Carell family really spurred on others to give.”
“When we heard about the gift, the librarians were just beside themselves,” Former Director of the Library Nancy Rumsey said. “The excitement was really palpable.”
From 2000 to 2005, Harpeth Hall raised 44.1 million dollars in addition to the Carells’ initial pledge to build the library. During construction, a temporary library was located in two trailers behind the middle school.
The library officially opened to students the week of Nov. 12, 2001 and was dedicated on Sunday, Nov. 18 with a ceremonial tour and ribbon-cutting. To commemorate the monumental change to the Harpeth Hall campus with the community, Karen Douse, the library’s director in 2001, organized a “book brigade” where students and faculty passed piles of books from one person to the next into the brand-new library.
According to the Harpeth Hall web story commemorating the 20th anniversary of the library, “the Ann Scott Carell Library left visitors in awe” with its “soaring columns, grand atrium, lofty ceilings, and light-filled learning spaces.” While cohesive with the architecture throughout the rest of campus, the library brings unique visual elements that have become iconic symbols of the Harpeth Hall experience.
The library brings an emblematic facade to Harpeth Hall’s collection of buildings on campus, but also brings a successful and decorated library program. The Ann Scott Carell Library circulates 20,000+ books per year, according to the Harpeth Hall website.
Along with the immense circulation size, the American Association of School Librarians dubbed Harpeth Hall’s library program the School Library and Media Program of the Year in 2007, six years after the Ann Scott Carell Library’s opening.
While the library has a massive presence on campus from the learning space it provides to the dedicated staff that works inside, the Ann Scott Carell library foreshadowed other major projects on campus.
The major updates to the Hortense Bigelow Ingram Upper School in 2004, the construction of the Athletic and Wellness Center in 2014, and the renovation of Bullard Gym into the Bullard Bright IDEA Lab in the Spring of 2022 followed the library project’s lead in fundraising and innovation.
While other projects have come and gone on campus in 20 years, the Ann Scott Carell Library still upholds Harpeth Hall and Carell family values.
“I want the library to have all the right things, but most importantly, a warm and inviting atmosphere. I hope students will want to gather in the library and be happy to be there. I hope this over and above anything else,” Mrs. Carell said.
Students and members of the greater Harpeth Hall and Nashville community confirm that the atmosphere of the library parallels Mrs. Carell’s initial vision. “If you ask a Harpeth Hall student what her favorite place on campus is, she will most likely say the library,” junior and co-President of Bibliobears, Virginia Callen said.
“The reputation of the Harpeth Hall library program extends far beyond Nashville. Susan Timmons in particular has been an influential voice in the Association of Independent Schools Librarians, and many of our colleagues throughout North America have benefitted from the thoughtful expertise she shares,” Director of the Patrick Wilson Library at Montgomery Bell Academy Jane McMahon said.
“A library is truly the academic heart of the school,” former Head of School Ann Teaff said.
The Harpeth Hall community’s heart has been full for 20 years.