Library to dedicate atrium to former director

Mike Wolanin | The Republic Rack of movies and bookshelves are seen where the reference section used to be located in the Bartholomew County Public Library in Columbus, Ind., Tuesday, Aug. 2, 2023.

The Bartholomew County Public Library is set to dedicate its atrium to someone who served as library director for more than four decades.

A library event on Saturday, Feb. 24 at 3 p.m. will see the atrium immortalized as the “Stephen Suckow Atrium,” named for the man who served longer than any other library director from 1967 to 2003.

Stephen W. Suckow

The library board voted to approve a resolution to rename the atrium last August. Suckow died in January of 2023.

Suckow arrived to BCPL right when the main building was being constructed, guiding the library through that process and beyond.

“Steve really contributed to what this building is and the end result of this building,” current director Jason Hatton said. “That’s a huge, huge legacy to leave.”

He helped the library continue to evolve through the years, Hatton said, and embraced emerging multimedia technologies as they came — from 35 millimeter film to VHS tapes to a cable-access story time program.

During the mid-1980’s Suckow recognized the need for more space and was “the main force behind creating the new addition that has expanded over the patio,” Hatton said. That new addition was constructed in 1986.

The atrium is a physical manifestation of Suckow’s legacy at BCPL and there’s a certain poetry in naming the area after him.

“Bridging the old building with the new, I thought was very appropriate,” Hatton said. “The light and the bridging, I think it makes a lot of sense and so we’re really excited to be able to honor him.”

The event will include speeches from Suckow’s two daughters — Suzanne Normington and Carol Suckow— along with remarks by Hatton and his predecessor Beth Booth Poor.

The commemoration coincides with the launch of BCPL’s new strategic plan, which Hatton said has an emphasis on creating community connections.

“I really think it comes back to that symbolism, right, of celebrating the past, but also then looking to the future.”

The library hopes to have an open house celebration sometime in April to show off the new flooring, elevator and rededicated atrium among other changes.