History of Welder Library

Library services had their beginnings long before Mary College’s incorporation in 1959. The Library Committee, chaired by Lillian Lord, planned for consolidating the collections of books, periodicals, and audiotapes of St. Alexius School of Nursing, housed in Boniface Hall, with those of Priory High School, along with other titles already acquired for the future college. All three sets of materials were eventually shelved in the library spaces below the Chapel of Our Lady of the Annunciation when it was completed in 1962-1963. Prior to occupying this location, the library was housed in what later became a large classroom in the original school wing of Priory High School.

The first staff consisted of a full-time clerk assisting the professional librarian, Lillian Lord, who worked three days a week. Sister Martha Clare Kilzer became the full-time librarian in the fall of 1962 and was assisted part-time by members of the Benedictine community. The collection began to show systematic growth, often based on consultation with faculty. In 1967, Sister Martha Claire adopted the Library of Congress classification system requiring her to reclassify the collection, which used the Dewey Decimal Classification system. Annual library expenditures during the first five years averaged $2,600, with the collection increasing by about 10,000 titles. By 1964, the library had more than 30,000 titles. Sister Marie Schuster became library director in 1968 and held the post for three years. Brother Paul Nyquist served as library director from 1971 to 1977. Cheryl Bailey assumed the directorship in 1977. David Gray followed as the director of library services in 2015.

The University of Mary library joined with the public libraries of Bismarck and Mandan in 1993 to form the Central Dakota Library Network consortium (CDLN) to establish an online public access catalog (OPAC). The system now includes more than 20 libraries in the central North Dakota area. For many years there were recurring library problems recorded in accrediting bodies’ reports. The library’s inadequate size and the relative inconvenience of its location on south campus impeded use. After almost 40 years, the library collection left its home in the lower level of the Priory to take permanent residence in the new Welder Library building.  Welder Library was constructed in 1998 on "Gift Hill," so named in recognition of the 40-acre gift to the Benedictine Sisters from local farmer Charles "Chick" Swenson.

Welder Library is dedicated to the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery and "our friend and university leader Sister Thomas Welder, OSB, for her wisdom and leadership in growing the University of Mary." Sister Thomas served as president of the University of Mary from 1978 to 2009. Sister Thomas passed away in 2020. In addition to the collection, the Welder Library houses an art gallery, classrooms, and faculty offices for the School of Arts and Sciences. Welder Library serves over 75,000 patrons each year, seats 204 students, has 28 computer workstations, and currently has approximately 50,000 print volumes, more than 300,000 eBooks, over 3,500 multimedia items, and databases providing access to over 60,000 journals.

The Welder Library's mission is to provide comprehensive resources and services in support of the research, teaching, and learning needs of the University of Mary community. To fulfill this mission, the Welder Library strives to:

  • Understand the research, teaching, and learning needs of its users;
  • Build collections and create tools to support research, teaching, and learning;
  • Provide access to and promote the discovery and use of local and external information resources;
  • Ensure the preservation and long-lasting availability of library collections and resources;
  • Create hospitable physical and virtual environments for study, teaching, and research;
  • Collaborate with other members of the university to enrich the research and learning community;
  • Advance local and national library and information initiatives;
  • Develop, encourage, and sustain expertise, skill, commitment, and an innovative spirit in its staff.

As a center of intellectual inquiry, the Welder Library shares with the University of Mary the aspiration to provide a dynamic learning environment.

The Welder Library ensures that its collections remain forward-looking, diverse in breadth and form, open to browsing, and of impeccable quality. Access to library information is critical to our users and the library promotes information resources that are innovative and allow for an effortless system of access to our students, faculty, and staff. To serve future users, the library preserves information across all formats and ensures effective storage and delivery systems. The library’s physical and virtual spaces respond to the changing habits of its users to enrich the campus experience and to multiply the ways in which people can pursue inquiry. The library’s collaboration with expanding circles of partners yields unified access, broadening knowledge, and enhanced services.

The library continues to embrace change, support professional growth and opportunity, and reward flexibility and innovation

In all of our interactions, we are guided by these values:


The Welder Library is fully committed to supporting the University of Mary's mission to serve the religious, academic, and cultural needs of the people in our region and beyond.


  • We encourage the process of learning and the life of the mind.
  • We celebrate truth-seeking through discourse and investigation.
  • We anticipate and contribute to scholarly inquiry.
  • We promote the library as both a real and virtual extended classroom.
  • We embrace our role as collectors and custodians of the intellectual record.


  • We offer an environment that supports creativity, flexibility, and collaboration.
  • We believe that each user of the library is unique and important.
  • We evolve to meet the changing needs of the library and its users.
  • We maintain a comfortable, welcoming, and secure place for study, research, work, reflection, and interaction.
  • We maintain useful and valuable online information resources to fully support the needs of all distance learners.


  • We commit ourselves to excellence.
  • We seek out the best people and resources to accomplish our work.
  • We support individual growth and organizational development.
  • We work diligently to exceed the expectations of those we serve.


  • We relate to each other with honesty and candor.
  • We adhere to the principles of fairness, justice, and equality in our work.
  • We promote the highest standards of our profession, including open and equitable access to information.
  • We demonstrate a strong work ethic, taking responsibility for our actions, keeping our word, and following through on our commitments.


  • We treat everyone with equal consideration and courtesy.
  • We encourage differences in perspective, opinions, and ideas.
  • We consider the needs of others.
  • We provide an environment that is inclusive and diverse.


  • We engage in open and honest communication at all levels.
  • We recognize the importance of library-wide participation.
  • We reach out to all segments of our user communities.
  • We share information and solicit opinions about decisions that affect the success of the library.

University Library Committee

The University Library Committee provides advice to the university president through the vice president for academic affairs concerning the administration of the Welder Library in accordance with the goals to provide quality, comprehensive, and innovative library support and services to the university and the community.

The University Library Committee consists of the director of library services at Welder Library (permanent member who serves as chair and secretary); one faculty member each from the Gary Tharaldson School of Business, School of Arts and Sciences, the Saint Gianna School of Health Sciences, Hamm School of Engineering, and the Liffrig School of Education and Behavioral Sciences; a junior class and a senior class student nominated by the student government; and a master‘s and a doctoral-level student nominated by the assistant vice president for academic affairs. The chair of the University Library Committee will report to the assistant vice president for academic affairs for administrative guidance. Undergraduate student members serve a one-year term; faculty members and graduate students serve a three-year term. The University Library Committee will meet a minimum of four times annually during the academic portion of the year (tentatively each September, December, February, and May).

    The University Library Committee shall:

    • Advise the university administration concerning library issues and library needs.
    • Maintain liaison relationships with the faculty and the colleges, both on and off campus, to ensure adequate communication regarding faculty and student needs for library resources.
    • Advise the library on effective methods of keeping faculty informed about both library services and policies, and the names of appropriate staff to contact.
    • Advise the library on user problems and discuss proposed solutions, as appropriate.
    • Assist the director of library services in formulating library policy to develop and strengthen print and other learning resources for instruction and research.
    • Serve as a forum for the discussion of recommendations and problems concerning acquisition and circulation of library resources, as well as remain informed of the physical, financial, and administrative operations of the library.
    • Keep the director of library services informed as to the current needs of students, faculty, staff, and other authorized users of the library. In turn, the director shall advise the committee of major library developments and problems as they may arise.
    • Annually review library operating policy as stated in university library policies.

    Ask a Librarian

    Welder Librarians are here to provide research and reference assistance to students. Research and reference assistance for students consists of direction to library materials, advice on library collections and services, and expertise on finding multiple kinds of information from multiple sources.