Every piece of wood in the Thompson Library was harvested from Ohio’s Zaleski State Forest. Credit: Ris Twigg | Lantern reporter

Thompson Library Gallery’s newest exhibit, “Building Ohio State,” celebrates the 10th anniversary of the library’s renovation and focuses on OSU’s role in forestry research throughout the state.

Every piece of wood in Thompson Library, from the paneled walls to the polished oak desks, was sustainably harvested in 2008 in Zaleski State Forest, located in Athens County with each tree being nearly 180 years old at the time it was cut.

During a ceremony held Wednesday evening, OSU Provost Bruce McPheron connected the exhibit to the Framework 2.0 plan that University President Michael Drake recently rolled out as he addressed the crowd at the exhibit’s Feb. 1 opening ceremony.

“Timber is a renewable resource and we are truly fortunate to utilize the Ohio wood from a state forest in this unique renovation project,” McPheron said, speaking about the 2006-2009 Thompson Library renovation.

Florian Diekmann, head of the College of Food, Agriculture and Environmental Sciences Library and Student Success Center, explained OSU’s deep connection to forest management through its Agricultural Experiment Station, which was created in 1882 as an effort to increase Ohio’s forest cover.

Diekmann said he hopes that the exhibit will teach people about the historical connection between OSU’s forests and the university’s most utilized library.

“We hope (students) develop a deep appreciation for the building that they’re using every day, and really develop an appreciation for this wonderful local resource,” Diekmann said.

Adam Conway, vice president of the Ohio Forestry Association and curator of the exhibit, shared the story behind the use of local white oak in the library.

In 2004, a massive ice storm swept across central Ohio, which led Conway to discover a 324-year-old white oak tree that had fallen over in Ohio’s Zaleski State Forest during the storm.

A cross-section of the tree now sits in the exhibition and serves as the inspiration behind the wooden design of Thompson Library.

“To architects, wood is warmth. Wood is strength. Wood is character,” Conway said to the crowd gathered in Thompson’s 11th floor. “Wood is renewable and your creations are better for it.”

During the early 20th century, only 10 percent of Ohio’s original forest cover remained.

But because of OSU’s role in forestry research and land acquisition, forests like Zaleski made a major comeback, Conway said.

“To the students, you are the primary audience for this exhibit,” he said. “Because of the efforts of (OSU) and the cooperation of foresters committed to sustainability, our timber resources will be around for the next generation.”


Correction 2/7: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated that the trees had been harvested 180 years ago. The article had been updated to reflect that the trees were 180 years old when harvested in 2008.