Our Beginnings

Years before Mary College’s incorporation in 1959, the Library Committee, chaired by Lillian Lord, consolidated collections of books, periodicals, and audiotapes belonging to the St. Alexius School of Nursing with Priory High School’s library holdings and additional titles already acquired for the use of future Mary College students.

The Committee originally housed these materials in the high school wing of Annunciation Priory. Following the completion of Our Lady of Annunciation Chapel in 1963, the Mary College library found its first fixed home in the lower level of what later became the Benedictine Center for Servant Leadership.

Steady Growth

Our staff initially consisted of one full-time clerk assisting Lord, who oversaw library operations three days a week. Sister Martha Clare Kilzer became our first full-time librarian in the fall of 1962. Her fellow sisters at Annunciation Priory provided part-time support throughout her tenure. Under Sister Martha Clare’s direction, library holdings continued to grow.

1968 saw the appointment of our first library director, Sister Marie Schuster. In 1971, Brother Paul Nyquist succeeded Sister Marie, serving for six years. Cheryl Bailey assumed the directorship in 1977; her 38-year tenure came to a close in 2015. The same year, we welcomed our current director of library services, David Gray, to the Welder Library family.


In 1993, the University of Mary library partnered with the public libraries of Bismarck and Mandan to form the Central Dakota Library Network (CDLN) and establish an exhaustive online public access catalog (OPAC). Today, the CDLN comprises more than 20 regional libraries.


Throughout the 80s and 90s, representatives from accrediting bodies repeatedly noted significant hindrances to library accessibility, particularly the original space’s inadequate size and inconvenient location at the south end of campus. After nearly 40 years in the lower level of Annunciation Priory, the University of Mary library took permanent residence in its current home. Constructed in 1998, the Welder Library sits at the crest of Gift Hill, so named in recognition of Charles “Chick” Swanson’s 1957 bequest of 40 acres to our founders, the Benedictine Sisters of the Annunciation.


The Welder Library is dedicated to the Benedictine Sisters of Annunciation Monastery and “our friend and university leader,” the late Sister Thomas Welder, OSB, “for her wisdom and leadership in growing the University of Mary.” A steadfast servant leader and lifelong learner, Sister Thomas served as President of the University of Mary from 1978 to 2009.

The Welder Library Today

In addition to our primary space, which boasts computer workstations with color and black and white printing and seating for up to 204 guests. Our building houses classrooms, an art gallery, and the main offices of the School of Arts and Sciences. Our current holdings include nearly 47,000 print volumes, over 500,000 ebooks, and a growing catalog of online databases that together provide access to roughly 100,000 academic journals. We are proud to serve over 75,000 patrons a year.

The Library's Mission, Vision, and Values

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.

Ask a Librarian

Welder Librarians are on hand to provide research and reference assistance to students needing one-on-one guidance.