Library

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Library history & facts

  • 1821 - 1849
  • 1850 - 1899
  • 1900 - 1949
  • 1950 - 1999
  • 2000 -

1821
* Library at Mrs. Montague's in town moves to a single case at the entry of South College, holdings approximately 700 volumes.
* Alexandrian Society and Athenian Society, student literary societies, established; society libraries soon follow.
* Joseph Estabrook, Professor of Latin and Greek, was Librarian (1821-23).

1822
* Library located in North College, 4th floor, 1822-27.

1823
* Zenas Clapp, Tutor and Librarian (1823-24).

1824
* Samuel M. Worcester, Professor of Latin and Greek, Rhetoric and Oratory, and English Literature, and Librarian (1824-27).

1827
* First printed Library catalog published.
* Ebenezer Snell (Class of 1822), Professor of Mathematics and Natural Philosophy, and Librarian (1827-52).
* Library located in Johnson Chapel, 3rd floor, 1827-53.

1831
* Substantial increase to the Library because of John Tappan's gift of $500.

1836
* Athenian Society prints its first literary society Library catalog.

1844
* Sears Fund of Literature and Benevolence established.

    1850
    * Library holdings are approximately 6,000 volumes.

    1851
    * By vote of the faculty, the College establishes the Memorabilia Collection to collect and preserve all documents pertaining to the history of the College.

    1852
    * Lucius Boltwood (Class of 1843) named first full-time Librarian (1852-63).

    1853
    * New building opens, houses Library; later named Morgan Hall.

    1855
    * Library holdings are approximately 12,000 volumes.
    * Second printed Library catalog published.
    * Second Athenian Society Library catalog also published.

    1863
    * Julius H. Seelye (Class of 1849), Professor of Moral Philosophy and Metaphysics, served as Librarian, without pay.

    1864
    * William Montague (Class of 1855), Registrar, Professor of Latin, French, Italian, and Spanish, and Librarian (1864-78).
    * First alphabetical author card catalog created.

    1867
    * Discussed merger of the Athenian and Alexandrian literary societies' libraries with College library.

    1871
    * Supplement to the Library catalog published.
    * Open hours change from 3 hours per week to 6 hours per day, closed Sunday.

    1874
    * Melvil Dewey (Class of 1874) Assistant Librarian (1874-76), starts subject catalog on cards.

    1878
    * Thomas P. Field (Class of 1834), Professor of Biblical History and Interpretation, and Librarian.

    1879
    * Walter Biscoe (Class of 1874), Acting Librarian (1879-83).

    1883
    * Library expands; building now named for Henry T. Morgan.
    * William I. Fletcher, Librarian (1883-1911).

    1884
    * Library becomes a selective Federal Depository.

    1885
    * Library holdings are approximately 43,000 volumes.

    1891
    * William I. Fletcher runs summer course in Library Economy, 1891-1905.

      1908
      * Robert S. Fletcher (Class of 1897), son of W. I. Fletcher, named Assistant Librarian.

      1911
      * Robert S. Fletcher, Librarian (1911-39).

      1917
      * Converse Memorial Library opens.

      1933
      * George Daniel Olds Memorial Library (Mathematics) established in Walker Hall.

      1935
      * Harry deForest Smith, Library Director; Robert S. Fletcher on medical leave (1935-39).

      1936
      * The Hitchcock Memorial Room is created in Morgan Hall to house the College Memorabilia Collection. It is a gift from Arthur N. Milliken (1880).

      1938
      * Addition built on Converse Memorial Library.
      * The first rare book room established in the Converse addition.  ("Treasures" previously kept in office vault).

      1939
      * Newton F. McKeon (Class of 1926), Library Director (1939-70).

        1951
        * Hampshire Inter-Library Center (HILC) established (initially Amherst, Mount Holyoke, and Smith Colleges, later the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, and then  Hampshire College) to foster cooperation among the libraries.
        * Olds Mathematics Library moves to Williston to be located near the Mathematics Department.

        1963
        * President John Fitzgerald Kennedy speaks at the groundbreaking ceremony for the Robert Frost Library on October 26th. The groundbreaking was part of a special Alumni Weekend that also included a convocation to honor President Kennedy. The event turned out to be one of President Kennedy's last public appearances before he was assassinated in November.

        1964
        * Charles T. Laugher, Assistant Library Director (1964-65).

        1965
        * Robert Frost Library opens. The building is named for the poet at the request of the anonymous donors who funded the construction. Frost taught at Amherst College off and on for more than 40 years.
        * Memorabilia Collection moves from the Hitchcock Memorial Room in Morgan Hall to Frost Library and renamed the College Archives.
        * Charles T. Laugher, Associate Library Director (1965-70).

        1968
        * Friends of the Amherst College Library founded.
        * Science Library opens in the new Merrill Science Center.
        * Vincent Morgan Music Library opens in the new Music building.

        1970
        * Charles T. Laugher, Director of Robert Frost Library (1970-75).
        * Richard J. Cody, Professor of English, and Librarian of the College (1970-74).

        1971
        * Audio-Visual Department established in Frost Library.

        1974
        * The Library joins OCLC (originally Ohio College Library Center; now OCLC, Inc.) for cataloging.
        * The Library discontinues use of the Dewey Decimal system and adopts the Library of Congress classification.

        1975
        * Willis E. Bridegam, Jr. assumes the position of Librarian of the College on August 1.
        * The Library joins NELINET (New England Library Information Network).
        * The Five College Librarians Council is established.
        * The HILC (Hampshire Interlibrary Center) collection and staff move from Goodell Library at the University of Massachusetts to Frost Library.

        1976
        * Electronic detection system is installed in the Library.
        * Five College Librarians Council is asked to study total Five College Library cooperation, including HILC and automated library systems.

        1977
        * Amherst College Library (a handbook) is published, compiled by Margaret Adams Groesbeck and funded by the Friends of the Library.
        * The Five College Librarians Council undertakes a survey of Five College library cooperation; "Report on Five College Library Cooperation" is issued in March, and recommendations of the Librarians Council are accepted in September.

        1978
        * Implementation of HILC dispersal decisions recommended by the Librarians Council begins.
        * College Archives given formal mandate by the Board of Trustees.

        1979
        * Annual professional evaluation system begins.

        1980
        * Cataloged dormitory library collections are moved to Frost Library and integrated with the main collection. Ownership of uncataloged general interest books is transferred to dormitories and shelved in rooms designated primarily for social activities.
        * Librarians begin to provide mediated online bibliographic searching.
        * HILC offices move from Frost Library to the Five College Center, Spring Street.

        1981
        * AACR2 is adopted for cataloging by the Library.
        * Dispersal of the HILC collection is completed among the member Five College libraries.
        * Amherst joins the SUNY/OCLC Library Network (now NYLINK).

        1982
        * Five Colleges, Inc. contracts with OCLC to develop a Five College Automated Library System.
        * The Neuroscience collection is moved from the Science Library in Merrill Center and integrated with the Biology collection to become the Biology-Neuroscience Library in Webster.
        * Additional storage space is created for Archives and Special Collections on Level C of Frost Library.
        * Two monitors for videotape viewing are installed on Level 2, Frost Library.

        1983
        * Administration and operation of the Language Laboratory is transferred from the Romance Languages Department to the Library.

        1984
        * Plans underway by the Trustees and administration to expand the Fine Arts Library in the Mead Art Museum. In January 1985 plans are abandoned.
        * Grants are received from the Pew Foundation ($10,500) and Culpeper Foundation ($53,000) for conversion of card-catalog records to machine-readable form.
        * A proposal is made to move the Audio-Visual Department from Frost Library to Converse, after the Post Office vacates that space.
        * The Library Committee examines the future of the Language Laboratory.
        * The College creates the new position of Archivist of the College.
        * Olds Mathematics Library moves to the new Seeley G. Mudd Building.
        * The Library creates the new position of Curator of Visual Resources.

        1985
        * Frost Library, Level C is finished for book storage, and compact shelving is installed.

        1986
        * Frost Library, Level C is opened to the public.
        * A room in Frost Library on Level 3 is assigned for the viewing of videodiscs, a format soon replaced by tapes.
        * A Culpeper grant ($100,000) is received for Five College conversion of catalog records.
        * The Reserves Area of Level A in Frost Library is remodeled and expanded.
        * Microforms are moved from the first floor of Frost Library to a larger area on Level A (near Reserves).
        * Friends of the Library provide seed money for a Photographic Images project in the Archives and Special Collections.
        * Most books remaining in the Dewey classification are moved to Level C.

        1987
        * Satellite TV is installed.
        * A Long-Range Planning Committee composed of Library staff is established to study Library space needs.
        * The Fine Arts Library moves from Mead Art Museum and is integrated into Frost Library.
        * The Audio-Visual Department in Frost Library on Level B is enlarged to include space for viewing.
        * Renovations to the first floor of Frost Library are carried out for the Reference Office, Circulation, and the Librarian's Office.
        * Wiring is completed for public terminals to access the online catalog.
        * A new roof is installed on the Frost Library.

        1988
        * The first Five College online catalog and circulation system is introduced (LS/2000).
        * The card catalog is frozen as of December 19, 1988; new titles available only online thereafter.

        1989
        * The circulation system in LS/2000 is the first part of the new system to be implemented in Frost Library, fall 1989.
        * The Library Expansion Committee is formed.
        * Monographs and backfiles of many journals in the Biology-Neuroscience Library are moved to Frost Library.
        * The Library acquires its first computerized index on CD-Rom.
        * The Amherst College Library joins the Commission on Preservation and Access (which combined with the Council on Library and Information Resources in 1998).

        1990
        * The Library Expansion Committee meets regularly; a report to the President is issued February 1991.
        * Circulation and Reserve functions in LS/2000 are fully automated and operational.
        * Willis Bridegam is appointed chairman of the Committee on Technology and the Humanities. A report to the President is issued February 1991.
        * Library gains responsibility for maintaining and replacing all classroom media equipment on campus, as part of the expanded services of the Audio-Visual Department.

        1991
        * Childs Bertram Tseckares Inc (CBT), architects, complete preliminary plans for expansion of the Frost Library.

        1992
        * Thomas P. Whitney '37 establishes an endowment and donates monographs, serials, and manuscript material to establish the Amherst Center for Russian Culture.
        * The Culpeper Foundation provides a grant of $121,000 for construction and furnishing of a conservation area in Frost Library. The grant also covers supplies and a technician's salary for two years.
        * Amherst College purchases a bunker in the Holyoke Range used by the Air Force Strategic Air Command for future development as an off-site storage facility.

        1993
        * The College's Priorities and Planning Committee report is issued, establishing Library expansion as a first priority, but recommending the use of existing buildings.
        * The Trustees approve a fifteen-year plan which will provide off-site storage, a central Science Library, and the renovation of Frost Library.
        * Library becomes a test site for new client server access to networked CD-ROMS, funded by the Davis Educational Foundation.
        * The preservation microfilming of the Dwight Morrow Papers is completed, funded by the NEH and the U.S. Department of Education, Title II-C.

        1994
        * The Friends of the Amherst College Library begin an oral-history program of videotaped interviews with members of the Amherst community whose reminiscences are likely to be of historical significance.
        * The second Five College automated library system is installed (Innovative Interfaces Inc., III).
        * The Depository opens in the renovated Air Force Strategic Air Command bunker in the Holyoke Range. It serves as an off-campus storage facility, connected by a daily delivery service.
        * The Library establishes its first web site.

        1995
        * The Robert Frost Library is renovated. William H. Rowe & Associates serves as architect; Marois Construction is general contractor.
        * The Science Library in Merrill Center (for Astronomy, Chemistry, and Physics) is renovated and expanded to include Psychology, Biology, Neuroscience, and Geology.
        * The Frost Library and Science Library re-dedication ceremony is held on October 28.
        * The Fine Arts slide digitizing project is implemented.
        * Dedication of the Kenneth P. Higgins '27 College History Room as part of the renovation of the Archives and Special Collections, Frost Library. It is the gift of Thomas Lee '51 in tribute to Higgins.
        * Creation of the College's first Media Center in Frost Library as part of the renovation.
        * Folger Undergraduate Fellowship for study at the Folger Shakespeare Library established by the Friends of the Amherst College Library and the Folger.

        1996
        * The first Folger Fellows study at the Folger Shakespeare Library.
        * Elizabeth Kelly retires as Fine Arts Librarian and Head of Circulation.
        * Leeta Baily becomes Head of Circulation and Inter-Library Loan.
        * Five Colleges, Inc. receives a $1.1 million grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation for the exploration of  "Consortial Training and Collaborative Collection Development," which includes components for digitization of unique primary source materials held in each library, a cooperative Five College database purchase, and Five College Multimedia Access projects.

        1997
        * The Five College Media Technology Specialist, supported by the Mellon Foundation grant, is based at Amherst College Library.
        * Requests for books from any Five College Library may be made directly through the online catalog, with the books delivered to the requester's home library.
        * The Library begins to use the integrated online system for Acquisitions in III.
        * The College appoints the first Director of Information Technology, who will share the office suite of the Librarian of the College.
        * The Science Library in Merrill Science Center is named for Harry V. Keefe, Jr. '43, for his gift to the College in memory of his college classmate and friend, Bruce B. Benson '43, Professor of Physics, 1947-1999.
        * The Albert E. Barnett '52 Reading Room in the Archives and Special Collections, Frost Library, is dedicated.
        * The John William Ward Exhibition Room in Archives and Special Collections, Frost Library, is dedicated. It is a gift of Judith and George W. Carmany III '62.

        1998
        * Five Colleges, Inc. undertakes a preliminary study of the potential for creating a depository for off-site storage for the five institutional libraries.
        The Serial System in III becomes operational. The paper check-in system is discontinued.
        * The Library establishes a liaison program with academic departments for enhancing communication and collection development.
        * The Amherst Center for Russian Culture opens in the newly renovated Webster Building, housing the extensive Russian book and manuscript collections given in 1992 by Thomas P. Whitney '37.
        * The 1998 NEASC reaccreditation report for the College identifies the library as a major college strength: "A first-class and well supported college library; outstanding museum and archival resources."
        * The Fine Arts Slide Collection is renamed the Visual Resources Department to reflect the expansion of services provided, including creation of and access to electronic images.

        1999
        * Five College library cooperation is reviewed as part of an independent review of the consortial arrangements of Five Colleges, Inc.
        * The Friends of the Amherst College Library web site is established.
        * The second phase of renovation of the Depository is completed; the Library will begin to move in in 2002.
        * Visual Resources Department is temporarily relocated to the Frost Library, awaiting the creation of a new space in the renovation of Fayerweather.
        * Interlibrary Loan requests can now be submitted online.
        * The seminar room in the Media Center is named for Ruth and James Barker '48.

          2000
          * The Librarian of the College is appointed as the College's Digital Millennium Copyright Officer.
          * The Fred and Barbara Lane '36 Room opens. The room is used for instruction in library resources, both digital and print.
          * A new Electronic Reserves program is offered to faculty. Three Economics courses are the first to place readings online.
          * An oral-history program of videotaped interviews is initiated by the Friends of the Library. The interviewees are long-time members of the Amherst College community whose reminiscences are of historical significance.
          * The Five College Library Collection Management Committee begins a series of meetings to determine what material is most suitable for storage in the proposed joint storage facility.

          2001
          * The Five College Online Finding Aids Project, funded by the Andrew H. Mellon Foundation and aimed at improving access to Five College manuscripts and archival collections, begins by making finding aids publicly accessible for browsing by creator or institution.
          * Videoconferencing technology is installed in the James and Ruth Barker '48 Room.
          * The Library redesigns and unveils a new, more extensive website.
          * Music-listening reserve material is made available through the College network, enabling students to do required listening in their dormitory rooms at any time.
          * The college begins to build a collection of Latino manuscripts and cultural artifacts representing US-Latino cultural figures and aesthetic movements from the nineteenth century to date.
          * The Care and Preserve Program is launched by the Friends of the Amherst College Library to help preserve and protect special materials and to ensure the longevity of all Library holdings.
          * Significant portions of the Olds Mathematics Library collection is relocated from Seeley G. Mudd to the Keefe Science Library and the Depository.

          2002
          * Visual Resources is moved from Frost Library to the newly renovated Fayerweather Hall.
          * The Five College Depository for off-site storage, located in the Bunker, opens.

          2003
          * Library holdings are:

          Books, serials, scores 960,189
          Non-print materials 41,807
          Microforms 513,028
          Uncatalogued USGS maps 85,756
          Uncatalogued LPs 18,376
          Manuscript and archival collections 7,000 linear feet

          2004
          * The Library celebrates the growth of its collection to more than a million volumes. The symbolic millionth acquisition is a collection of letters written by James Merrill (Class of 1947) to William S. Burford (Class of 1949) while they were undergraduates. In conjunction with this milestone event and the special acquisition, the Library hosts a symposium on April 24, “Remembering James Merrill at Amherst."
          * Willis E. Bridegam, Jr. retires as Librarian of the College on August 31. Sherre Harrington assumes the position on September 1.

          2006
          * The Library brings up a new integrated library system, Aleph 500 by ExLibris, on August 28 along with Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, Smith, and the University of Massachusetts - Amherst.
          * Support for classroom audiovisual technology is transferred from the Library to Information Technology.
          * The Library's film collection numbers more than 12,000 titles.
          * A new campus committee is formed "to ensure that a strong plan is defined for a standard bearing twenty-first century library"  and the firm of Shepley Bulfinch Richardson of Boston was hired to assist with the planning.

          2007
          * Collection Development Committee honors Professor Barry O'Connell with the Hugh Hawkins Book Award.

          2008
          * Planning begins to transfer Music monographs from the Music Library to the Level 2 of Frost to make room for additional scores and compact discs in the Music Building.
          * The U.S. economic crisis forces the College to put a freeze on all hiring decisions for one year.

          2009
          * Sherre Harrington steps down as Librarian of the College in January.  Willis E. Bridegam, Jr. assumes the role of Interim Librarian.
          * Mike Kelly is hired as the new Head of Archives & Special Collections.
          * Five College Librarian's Council investigates consolidation of each library's Technical Services into one Five College unit but consultants Ruth and Rick Lugg suggest other areas to investigate as more cost-effective.
          * Early retirement program:  Patricia Keyes, Deborah Pelletier, Patricia Wood.
          * Level 2 weeded of duplicate copies no longer relevant to collection.
          * College proposal to remove social dorms, build new dorms, build new combined sciences complex, and renovate Merrill to hold a new Library and use Frost for Music Dept.  change due to the economy and plans are made to renovate Merrill for Physics and Chemistry.

          2010
          * Bryn Geffert becomes Librarian of the College in January.
          * The Library receives approval to fill the positions of Social Sciences Librarian, Humanities Librarian, and Head of Research and Instruction along with several staff positions due to an early retirement offering.  
          * Early retirement program:  Margaret Groesbeck, Barbara Joy,  Susan Lisk, Don Milliken, Lorraine Tully.
          * Cynthia LePage accepts position as Library Business Manager, replacing Lorraine Tully.
          * Five Colleges hires R2 to investigate collaborative efforts around electronic resources and digitization.
          * Missy Roser hired as the Humanities Librarian to start August 16.
          * Gretchen Gano hired as the Social Sciences Librarian to start January 2011
          * Library creates Digital Asset Management team, receives approval to advertise for Head of Digital Progams.
          * Interlibrary loan staff begin reporting to the Head of Access Services instead of  Reference.
          * Level 3 weeded of duplicate copies no longer relevant to collection; also LC class N on Level B and Reference Collection reviewed by M.Groesbeck.
          * Maryanne Alos accepts position as Science Library Associate, leaving vacant a part-time position in Access Services, Isadora Mota accepts full-time position in ILL, leaving vacant part-time position as Reference Assistant.
          * Library Space Committee submits plans to the President to improve Frost, funding is approved at a level that requires Committee to make decisions on priorities.  A cafe, replacing old carpeting and making new study and art galleries on Level 2 are costed out by Physical Plant.
          * With the removal of several tall book stacks, the Friendly Periodical Reading Room becomes a new space for guest speakers and receptions.

          2011
          * Summer interior renovations begin.  Replacement carpet will be laid down on Level 1 and 168 shelves removed from the Reference Collection to make room for a cafe to be located outside the Librarian's Office. Carpeting will also be replaced on Level A and new carpeting laid down in open and group study areas on Level 2 and 3.  The cafe will be in place by the end of fall 2011.

          2012
          * Frost Cafe opens in January.

          2013
          * Purchase of Native American Indian Collection.
          * Amherst College Press (open access) hires director fo start work January 2014.