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The History of Bentley University Library

1959 - Today

Bentley College Library opened its doors in the fall of 1959 in the Back Bay neighborhood of Boston. When the College acquired land in Waltham, MA in the early 1960s, the library was among the original group of buildings erected to form the new campus in 1968. Since 1972, the library's majestic clock tower has served as the distinctive centerpiece of the University's beautiful upper campus. 

In the 1970s and 1980s, the library doubled its staffing size, more than quadrupled its book collection (originally comprising about 22,000 books), and expanded its facility by 30%, adding more study space for a growing student body. The library computerized library purchasing and acquisitions functions, and was an early adopter of on-line information resources on CD-ROM. 

The biggest change for the library came in the 2000s when the Library began a $17 million renovation project, envisioned by Phillip Knutel, former executive director of academic technology, the library, and online learning, to be "a hub of academic life reflect[ing] Bentley's stature in technology, research, and campus life." On March 21, 2006, the building, 69,000 sq. ft. including state-of-the-art collaborative study rooms and comfortable seating for 745 users, 48 public computers, RFID technology for streamlined circulation of library materials, and online research resources for teaching and learning, was opened to the campus and Waltham communities. In 2020, the library’s Research Instruction Classroom was upgraded to include hybrid teaching technology for use alongside traditional face-to-face instruction. 

Bentley Library’s technology solutions to improve access to information and student engagement were recognized and awarded a top 20 college library ranking by The Princeton Review in 2011, 2015, and 2016.   

In anticipation of Bentley’s Centennial Celebration in 2017, the Library hired a University Archivist to collect and preserve material documenting the history of Bentley University. The Archives includes a curated collection of business research by the college’s founder, Harry Bentley; letters and other documents showing early progress of Bentley’s founding; and photographs, video, audio, and artifacts relating to the history of the university and its people. 

In 2018, the library joined the Boston Library Consortium (BLC), comprising 20 public and private universities, liberal arts colleges, state and special research libraries in the Northeast, to explore cost-effective strategies for delivering services. Library staff contribute to consortium projects related to best practices in librarianship, including diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives, technology advances, and other topics; share print and digital content among BLC member institutions; and participate in professional development opportunities. 

In line with the Library's commitment to serving the campus community, the library building is also home to the RSM Art Gallery, Deloitte Café, IT/Client Services Help Desk, English Speakers of Other Languages (ESOL) Center, and the Writing Center. 

Statement of Acknowledgment of Indigenous Peoples and their Ancestral Lands

Bentley University was founded and currently resides on the ancestral homelands of the indigenous Pawtucket (puh-TUCK-et) and Massachusett (MASS-ad-CHU-sett) peoples, the latter from whom the name of the Commonwealth of Massachusetts was taken.

Bentley acknowledges the impact of forced removal and violence on the lives and legacies of Indigenous people past and present. Bentley is committed as an institution of higher education to creating an educational environment that recognizes and honors the lived experiences, cultural practices, land resources, and history of Indigenous peoples at the University.