Named in honor of Carl B. Ylvisaker, professor of religion at Concordia College for many years, this building marks the beginning of the College's C-400 Club. In 1955 when Concordia needed $400,000 to build a library, two members of the Board of Regents devised a creative plan to raise the money. Fargo businessmen J. Luther Jacobson and E. T. Paulson each agreed to donate $1,000 to the project, then set out to recruit 398 other people to do likewise. By 1961 they had completed their goal and were well on their way into the next project - 500 more memberships to fund construction of the administration building. Privately organized to support the work of the college, the C-400 Club has financed facility construction and renovation, student scholarships, debt reduction, and campus beautification for Concordia College, all through volunteer efforts.
One of the first of Concordia's distinctive tan brick buildings, the current library building was completed in 1956. Previously, small libraries had been located in Old Main and Grose Halls. Eventually, the library was moved to Fjelstad Hall which remained a 'temporary' library for 12 years. Students, faculty and staff assisted in the move; 'Operation Horsepack,' meant carrying 44,000 books from the basement of Fjelstad, to fill the new library shelves.
The library was designed by Edward Sovik, who also planned 10 other buildings on campus. The library, with its spacious Reference area, won the American Institute of Architects award for architectural beauty in 1957. A four-story addition to the library, also funded by the C-400 Club, was constructed in 1971. At that time, the third and fourth floors were used for classrooms and faculty offices. In 1989 the library expanded again and now uses the whole addition for its stacks and for the College's Archives. Coincidentally, the remodeling of the library addition cost $400,000, the cost of the original library building.
The library features a large Reference room, a Curriculum Center, and two computer labs. Over 300,000 books, 50 newspaper and 1,200 periodical subscriptions make up the library's collection. Materials are accessed by MnPALS, the online catalog which also accesses other regional college and university libraries. These collections are available to Concordia faculty and students through Concordia's interlibrary loan service.
Several permanent works of art are displayed in the library. Inquiry, a Venetian glass mosaic by the late David J. Hetland, a 1969 Concordia graduate, graces the entrance to the library. A bust of Martin Luther, sculpted by J. Paul Ness, '73, can also be found in the entryway. Founders, a bronze sculpture by the late Paul Granlund of Gustavus Adolphus College, St. Peter, Minnesota, is in the Circulation area.
Carl B. Ylvisaker was born in Robbinsdale, Minnesota, January 13, 1896, the son of Professor Johannes T. Ylvisaker and his wife Kristi. His father was professor of New Testament exegesis at Luther Seminary of the Norwegian Synod. During Carl's early boyhood, Luther Seminary moved to the Hamline district of St. Paul and this is where he grew up. Graduating from Central High School in 1913, he entered Luther College in Decorah, Iowa, finishing in 1917. That fall he matriculated at Luther Northwestern Theological Seminary and completed his courses in the spring of 1920. He spent the fall and early winter of 1920 in graduate study at Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, Missouri.
Dr. Ylvisaker came to Concordia College in 1927 to chair the religion department and exerted a tremendous influence on the Concordia community during his 19 years here. Ylvisaker taught religion, counseled campus religious organizations, gave his summers to Bible camps, coached tennis, was the dean of men for two years and was an unforgettable teacher who was sought out by students for his gentle but firm counsel. The library, built in 1955 with funds raised by the first C-400 project, was named in his honor.
In 1933, Dr. Ylvisaker married Marie Sletvold (1905-1975). Their five children are all alumni of Concordia.
At his funeral in April 1945, Ylvisaker was eulogized as a teacher who possessed "a willingness to share with others in a humble and sincere way the joy he had found in Christ Jesus."