Robert Williams, Senior Curator of Rare Books, and Mr. Fred Bentley, KSU benefactor, conceived of a reading room for Mr. Bentley's 1986 donation of first editions. The Gallery was designed to represent a middle-class domestic English library circa 1760 to 1820. The space, on the ground floor of the Sturgis Library, was dramatically transformed into an immersive environment in which patrons can interact with and appreciate the collection. The Gallery's woodwork was hand crafted to evoke an authentic atmosphere, and the space was furnished with period pieces that highlight the rich cultural and social history of objects. Behind these beautiful surroundings, modern technology and systems are utilized to make the space secure and control its environment.
For twenty-five years the Bentley Rare Book Gallery has served as a destination for students, faculty, community members, and book lovers who ensure it remains a living, growing resource.
Mr. Williams discusses the genesis of the Gallery and its purpose with Dr. Tom Scott.