St. Bernardine of Siena Library
Dedicated on March 5, 1995, St. Bernardine of Siena Library houses approximately 65,000 books and recordings in over 18,800 square feet. Named in honor of one of the greatest evangelists of 14th century Italy, it reflects Thomas Aquinas College’s commitment to the highest academic and spiritual pursuits.
At St. Bernardine of Siena Library, the seminal works of the greatest thinkers of Western civilization are available, both in the most accurate translations and in the original language, as are the best commentaries on these works. Although students are strongly encouraged to first approach original works directly — unprejudiced by the writings of other scholars — related readings, reference works, periodicals, and scholarly journals are also available. Additionally, the library shelves noteworthy fiction, spiritual reading, and works of general interest for those times when students desire a relaxing break from the rigors of the program.
The achitectural style of St. Bernardine of Siena Library evokes a sense of tranquility and contemplation. Situated on the southeast corner of the academic quadrangle, the library is approached on two sides via arcaded walks. Designed in the Spanish Mission Revival style, the building reflects order and nobility of thought, an ideal setting for the serious pursuit of wisdom.
Inside, the soft light and lowered ceiling of the foyer provide a transition from the wide open mountain vistas of the campus to the soaring central nave which defines the heart of the library proper. Natural light filters in through an impressive arched window to the south and from rows of recessed clerestory windows set high in the east and west walls. The far arched window also frames a dramatic view of the Santa Clara River Valley.
Of particular note is the magnificent early 17th century nave ceiling, donated by the Honorable and Mrs. William P. Clark of California. Originally crafted in 1620 for a convent of discalced Mercedarians (founded by St. Peter Nolasco), the ceiling was once owned by William Randolph Hearst. Reflecting the ceiling’s grandeur, but in marked simplicity of design, are floor tiles from Siena, Italy, as well as the Scandinavian beechwood flooring in the main stack area, which is sunken to allow a full view of the nave. Each of the library’s special purpose rooms flows out from and into the central nave, creating a symmetry and balance for the whole. The Library was made possible by a lead gift from the Dan Murphy Foundation.
View the slideshow below to experience a virtual tour of the Library, revealing the attention given to creating an atmosphere conducive to the pursuit of wisdom. The many fine art pieces, rare books, and antiques donated by the College’s generous benefactors help set a tone of contemplative appreciation for what is true, good, and beautiful.
“The texts we are reading ask the fundamental questions in life, which every human person needs to be able to answer. You want to answer these questions, and you experience the beauty of wonder in discussing them.”
– Suzie Jackson (’15)