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Davidson College, a private, liberal arts institution in North Carolina, has secured an $85 million donation to expand its library with a focus on bringing it into the digital age.

College officials announced Thursday that the Duke Endowment, a nonprofit focused on strengthening North and South Carolina communities, has committed $60 million for the project, which is the largest gift in the college’s history. Officials said the gift inspired another donation of $25 million from California businessman and philanthropist Bob Abernethy. Abernethy’s father, George Abernethy, was a Davidson professor who founded the college’s philosophy department and co-founded the humanities department. The revamped library will be named after George Lawrence Abernethy.

The announcement said that the gifts will help “answer the global question of how a library, with a deep collection of physical books, reimagines itself in a digital age. The revamped library will help prepare Davidson students for solving problems in the world that didn’t exist when they enrolled.”

Doug Hicks, Davidson’s president, said a transformed library is vital to this shift.

“Davidson students learn differently today than they did 50, 20 or even five years ago,” he said in the announcement. “It is our responsibility to provide our students, faculty and community with the kinds of academic spaces and resources they need to contribute to the world today.”

The current library was built in 1974 with a focus on book storage. While books will still be readily available, the new, modernized space will focus on fostering collaboration, research and experimentation.

“We recognize that engagement with information and technology is a foundational skill for our students and that they are increasingly asked to produce work that is digital in nature—podcasts videos, websites, data visualizations, etc,” the college said in an email to Inside Higher Ed. “The transformed library will offer a wider array of tools that are essential for this kind of digital scholarship.”

“Books and periodicals remain vital in [the learning] process, and so do digital resources and spaces for innovative group work,” Hicks said.

Libraries have long served as a reference point for research, citation concerns and information technology issues on campus. This often morphs into a catch-all for innovation, particularly with the rise of artificial intelligence. Several librarians have begun spearheading AI guidelines, and a report released earlier this month stated higher education is believed to be the most trusted to ethically handle artificial intelligence.