Ann Scott Carell Library celebrates 20 years as the 'academic heart' of Harpeth Hall
“A library is truly the academic heart of the school.”
— Former Head of School Ann Teaff at the ribbon-cutting and dedication for the
Ann Scott Carell Library on Nov. 18, 2001
On a November day in 2001, Harpeth Hall students and faculty gathered behind the Middle School and formed a line. Side by side, they stretched down the school sidewalks and along Souby Lawn all the way to the front door of the brand new library.
Then they started passing books — batches and batches of books — from one person to the next delivering them their new home.
The book brigade, as it was called, marked the realization of a vision two years in the making. In 1999, Ann and Monroe Carell made a $5 million pledge to construct the 20,000-square-foot library. Ms. Carell, a Harpeth Hall parent and later grandparent, served as a Harpeth Hall trustee. She was a great advocate for girls education, and with her pledge, she envisioned building the academic heart of Harpeth Hall.
“I want the library to have all the right things, but most importantly, a warm and inviting atmosphere,” Mrs. Carell said. “I hope students will want to gather in the library and be happy to be there. I hope this over and above anything else.”
As the school broke ground and construction on the project began, Harpeth Hall librarians moved to two trailers behind the Middle School. One served as their office, the other stored the books. When a student wanted to check out a novel or biography, the librarians sorted through the carefully labeled storage boxes to find what the student was looking for.
The library opened the week of November 12, 2001, with a formal grand opening and dedication on a Sunday along with a ribbon-cutting ceremony and a tour. A stunning two-story brick building with soaring columns, a grand atrium, lofty ceilings, and light-filled learning spaces, the Ann Scott Carell Library left visitors in awe.
When it came time to move into the new space, Karen Douse, who served as director of the library from 2000 to 2012 and was integral in planning all aspects of the new library, had a plan — a book brigade. In this way, the shelves of the Ann Scott Carell Library filled with colorfully bound stories and references that would serve the students for years to come and fulfill the mission set out by the Carell family.
This year, the Ann Scott Carell Library celebrates its 20th anniversary — and the space has become everything Mrs. Carell envisioned for the students who step through its doors.
A remarkable majesty
As a 4th grade girl in 2014, Hallie Graham came to Harpeth Hall on Admission Preview Day.
She sat in the theatre filled with impressive young women in white oxford shirts. She watched dancers on stage. She talked to the kind faculty members, and she saw beautiful artwork on the walls.
While the wonders of McMurry Center, Souby Hall, and the Patton Visual Arts Center impressed her, there was one building that stood out among all the others.
“I was awed by the Ann Scott Carell Library,” Hallie remembers. “A beautiful building with wide, starkly white columns and a dome that is somehow more awesome on the inside than from the outside.”
The deep comfortable armchairs and elegant stone fireplace made the fiction side of the library feel warm and safe to her, and the rows and rows of books filled with infinite stories excited her.
“Whatever I had to do, I wanted to be a Harpeth Hall girl,” Hallie said. “I wanted to wear Campbell plaid. I wanted one of those solo study rooms. I wanted to sit in one of those chairs.”
In the years since, Hallie has done all of that. Now, as the co-president of the Bibliobears, she feels as connected to the space as she did the day she first saw it.
“No matter how many tests I have, the second table from the left behind the circulation desk in the reference section will always be in the library waiting for me,” she said. “No matter how many chemistry notes I have to condense, the study rooms, though hard to come by, have blank whiteboards ready to be covered in Lewis structures.”
No matter the academic stress or the fatigue she feels, the Ann Scott Carell Library, she said, “has never lost its majesty.”
The story continues
In the 20 years since the library first opened, Harpeth Hall has grown in new ways.
The $5 million gift from Ann and Monroe Carell inspired other donors to make major gifts to the school during the Campaign for Harpeth Hall from 2000 to 2005 raising $44.1 million for capital projects, endowment, and The Annual Fund. And Harpeth Hall's offerings have continued to grow. With the continued generosity of Harpeth Hall supporters, other new projects came to fruition such as the Athletic and Wellness Center. The opening of the Bullard Bright IDEA Lab is now on the horizon.
Over the next 20 years, the school will continue to develop with new visions of innovation and educational excellence for its student. Along that journey, the library will remain a centerpiece of the campus and a symbol of the dedication to girls education that Ann Carell displayed.
“The library ensures that, while the school changes and develops, Harpeth Hall’s growth is founded in a love of learning and a love of words,” Hallie said. “I feel extremely fortunate and blessed to have been a small part of the Ann Scott Carell Library’s story.”
Ann Scott Carell Library: By the Numbers
In addition to the $5 million gift for the construction of the Ann Scott Carell Library, the Carell family also gave $1 million to endow the library, which ensures its long-term maintenance. The American Association of School LIbrarians honored Harpeth Hall with the School Library and Media Program of the Year Award in 2007, and the library continues to thrive as a place for Harpeth Hall students to learn and engage with one another.
Total collection: 32,727 books (as of July 3, 2021)
Total annual circulation: 20,000+ books
E-book access: 60,000 e-books
Professional and scholarly database access: 60+ databases