Tatums give $2.4M to USM libraries

Published 11:57 pm Saturday, February 2, 2008

The University of Southern Mississippi will use a $2.4 million gift from a Hattiesburg couple to improve its library system.

“Students expect a different look,” said Sherry Laughlin, USM’s associate university librarian. “They expect comfortable furniture, an attractive space with a lot of technology.”

The money comes from the sale of land donated in 2002 by Mary and Joseph “Chip” Tatum Jr. of Hattiesburg. Mary Sutherland Tatum is a 1974 Southern Miss graduate with a lifelong interest in libraries. Chip Tatum is a real estate developer.

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The couple donated a piece of real estate in the Woolmarket area of Harrison County to the University of Southern Mississippi Foundation. The property recently sold for more than $2.4 million with the proceeds going to the library system.

USM’s library system includes Cook Library, McCain Library and Archives, the USM Gulf Coast Facility and Gunter Library at the Gulf Coast Research Lab.

“Libraries change so quickly,” said Chip Tatum in a statement. “It’s not just books anymore. They (Southern Miss libraries) do a lot of restorations and preserving of documents and there’s a huge amount of labor involved. When this idea was started, we wanted to free up dedicated money so the library could focus on projects like restoration and student programming.”

Tatum also established a library endowment at USM in 2002, according to the university.