Benedictine College Library Celebrates Federal Distinction | Benedictine College

Benedictine College Library Celebrates Federal Distinction

Commemorating 50 Years of Government Docs

Published: Thursday, September 17, 2015


For 50 years, the Benedictine College Library has been the place to go in the area to hear the government’s story straight from the source.

The library was designated as a selective Government Documents Depository for the 2nd Congressional District in 1965. On Sept. 17, 2015 — Constitution Day — the library celebrated this designation, which has been one of several qualities that makes the Benedictine College Library distinctive.

Students featured in the event included Sophomore library worker Joseph Baderrama and the winners of the government documents scavenger hunt, Freshmen Monika Litynski, Maria Heiman and Madilyn Deters.

Visitors walked past a giant American flag hanging on the library and walked through the main entrance under red, white and blue bunting to attend the celebration.

They passed a beautiful government documents-themed cake, signed the registry and took their seats in front of an impressive display of flags and symbols of the Federal Depository program.

After a prayer and the Pledge of Allegiance, Library Director Steven Gromatzky opened the celebration by reading a message of congratulations from U.S. Rep. Lynne Jenkins on “50 impressive years” of service.

“The rich history of our state has laid the framework for the future of our state — and of our nation — and much of that history lies here in this library,” she wrote, adding that she was unable to attend the event in person because of scheduled Congressional votes.

Carmen Orth-Alfie, the Federal Depository official for Kansas, attended and presented a plaque commemorating the event.

Wanda Adams, who maintains the collection, gave the history of the depository status. She noted that the collection was originally presided over by the first priest ever designated in the Federal Depository program, and that the government documents collection at Benedictine College numbers nearly 20,000 items.

The keynote speaker of the event was Dr. John Settich, Chair of the Political Science Department.

Noting that he was a freshman at St. Benedict’s College when the library received its designation, he praised the U.S. Constitution to commemorate Constitution Day and the Federal Depository program to commemorate its anniversary. “The U.S. Constitution is one of the most remarkable and bold experiments in the history of the world in government by consent,” he said. “This library and the documents it holds are a testimony to the power of that consent.”

He held up an 1826 volume with proceedings of the Constitutional conventions to show the importance of the government document record. “I am so thankful that Benedictine College was chosen to be a repository for these documents,” he said.

Dean of the College Dr. Kimberly Shankman pointed out that the Depository status was in keeping with the Benedictine nature of the college.

“Stability is a major aspect of Benedictine spirituality,” she said. “Monks serve the needs not just of the students, but also of the larger community. One of the needs that has been addressed for five decades now is the need in the area of supporting an informed citizenry.”

Gromatzky and Dean Shankman recognized Miriam O’Hare, who served as Government Document’s Coordinator for most of her 36 years at Benedictine College Library, before retiring in 2013.

Benedictine College President Stephen D. Minnis said he appreciated the commemoration.

“Just think," he said, "for 50 years, citizens with questions about the government turned to Benedictine College to find answers — and students researching everything from military matters to educational regulations have had primary source documents right here at their fingertips. Steve Gromatzky, Miriam O’Hare and Wanda Adams have done a great job, and deserve our thanks.”

Gromatzky summed up the importance of the day.

“In the oft quoted words of Thomas Jefferson, ‘An informed citizenry is at the heart of a dynamic democracy,’” he said. “This principle is also at the heart of the Federal Depository Program, its raison d'etre, you could say. In an age when we seem overwhelmed with information, we should beware not to take freedom of information for granted.”

Founded in 1858, Benedictine College is a Catholic, Benedictine, residential, liberal arts college located on the bluffs above the Missouri River in Atchison, Kansas. The school is proud to have been named one of America’s Best Colleges by U.S. News & World Report as well as one of the top Catholic colleges in the nation by the Newman Guide. This year the college was named an All-Steinway School by Steinway & Sons pianos. It prides itself on outstanding academics, extraordinary faith life, strong athletic programs, and an exceptional sense of community and belonging. It has a mission to educate men and women within a community of faith and scholarship.