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In 1983 New York retail fashion partners, designer Shannon Rodgers and apparel manufacturer Jerry Silverman, donated a multimillion dollar gift to Kent State University for the creation of a Fashion Design and Merchandising School and for the establishment of a museum to house their extensive decorative arts and fashion design collection. Among the gifts to the Kent State University Museum were fashion journals and monographs, many of which formed a core collection for the museum's non-circulating research library. The museum research library, located in the front wing of Rockwell Hall, still exists today, though it is not a member of the Kent State University Library system. While none of its materials circulate, many of them are cataloged and can be discovered by using the KentLINK catalog, a courtesy of the KSU Libraries. To make a research appointment to view items in the museum's collection, call 330-672-3450.
When Rockwell Hall was renovated in late 1988 to accommodate the School of Fashion School, space was created for a resource room, or library, to serve students. It was envisioned that this library would become a circulating member of the Kent State University Library System. By 1990, Dr. June F. Mohler, then director of the Fashion School , was working with Professor Alex Gildzen to plan the branch library, which was to be located in the back wing of Rockwell Hall, directly across the atrium from the museum.
It was not until 1995, under the direction of Dr. Elizabeth A. Rhodes, the new director of the School of Fashion Design and Merchandising, that enough funds were raised to make the Fashion Library a reality. Donations were contributed by several donors, including corporations and individuals. By the spring of 1996, the Kent State University Library became involved in the planning process. In September of 1997, the Fashion Library opened its doors for the first time.
The Fashion Library is the product of a dream, persistent effort, and cooperation, and it is here to serve every interested student, faculty or staff member of the University, as well as members of the community at large.