When the pandemic came, an endowed programmatic fund helped OSU Libraries meet student needs

October 31, 2021

Mel George was the University Librarian in the 1990s when preparations were underway for the extensive expansion of the OSU library. Personal computers were still relatively new. In consultations about technology, Hewlett-Packard “already was talking about wireless — and that seemed impossible,” George recalls. “We couldn’t imagine that it would be possible to connect everything at the same time.”

After George retired, his family honored him by creating an endowed fund to support library priorities. And then the pandemic hit.

By this time, the library had a laptop lending program, but as OSU shifted to remote learning and students left campus, access to laptops became even more important. Funds from the Melvin R. George and Family Endowed Fund purchased 27 new laptops: replacing aging models, allowing more students to be served and increasing the length of time laptops could be borrowed.

“Students expressed heartfelt appreciation for the laptops provided through our loan program. For many, graduation would have been impossible without them,” said Margaret Mellinger, head of Valley Library’s emerging technologies and services department. “It is wonderful that we can rely on our endowed funds to meet urgent needs, thanks to our generous library supporters.”

Whatever the future brings, endowed programmatic funds will continue to advance OSU’s highest priorities.

During his tenure as OSU University Librarian (1984-1996), Mel George advocated for and helped raise money to build the Valley Library. The Marilyn Potts Guin Library was built at OSU’s Hatfield Marine Science Center in Newport during his tenure as well.

Learn more about creating an endowed fund at Oregon State University.