Tuesday, April 19, 2011

The "teachers college" library

Time moves on, and the library did as well as the college. In 1942 after a long campaign Brockport became a Teachers College, meaning that it began awarding the Bachelor's degree. (As a "Normal School," our graduates received certificates to teach in the public schools; many of their credits could transfer to further schooling if they wished.)

The library had occupied a set of rooms in the old Normal School building, and had a similar position in the new building erected in the late 1930s, occupying a set of rooms on the second floor, in the middle of what we now call Hartwell Hall. (Pictured here is a scene of students studying there in 1946.)

Like today's library, there was a reference collection of encyclopedias and dictionaries, books on diverse topics that could be checked out, a children's literature collection and so forth. Starting in 1924 we had our first librarian with professional training, Elizabeth Sherley, who had gone to the New York State Library School in Albany. Librarian Mary Lee McCrory succeeded Sherley in 1938 and a second librarian, Rosemond Cook, was added in 1941.

After WWII, as the school experienced tremendous growth in student numbers, expansion of the curriculum and so on the need for a separate building for the library became increasingly obvious. One staff member, senior cataloger Joyce Ogden who retired in the early 1990s, recalled that when she started in 1958 the library was still in Hartwell Hall, and the staff desk seating was so limited that staff had to share desks in rotation; there just wasn't room for them all to be present and working at any one time!

Finally in 1961 the first building on campus designed expressly as a library building was erected, but that is for the next posting :-)

Monday, April 4, 2011

The library in the 1890s

Last time we looked at the early library of the Collegiate Institute era, 1835-1866. In 1867 Brockport became one of the new state "Normal" or teacher training schools, and this led to increased demands on the library. As a teacher training school the state supplied the textbooks, and these were housed in a special part of the library. The library also held a smaller collection of "miscellaneous and reference" books, as well as continuing to house the "philosophical apparatus," the lab equipment of the day.

As time went on in the Normal era expectations for research by students and faculty increased, leading to greater demand for library resources. For some time funds were limited, and the need was met by two of the Greek letter societies of the day, Gamma Sigma for men and Arethusa for women. They maintained a small library of several hundred books each, housed in the rooms given to the use of the societies in the building at that time.

For much of the 19th century the library was maintained by one of the faculty as part of their duties, William Lennon and then Herman Burlingame doing this until the early 1890s. During the time Burlingame was overseeing the library it acquired a set of rooms of it' own, rather than simply being a set of shelves in one of the rooms.

Then in1894 Jeanette Reynolds '73, who had been a secretary at the school, became the first person to be full time as a librarian. Early in her tenure as librarian she arranged and cataloged the books according to the then new Dewey Decimal system, secured the recognition of Brockport as a Federal government depository, a status still held today, and in general established a modern library.

(The photos are from the first yearbook, a one time effort in 1899. Some years later the early Stylus ran an annual yearbook issue ca1916-1928. After that the student yearbook was the Saga, which ceased being published in the 1990s.)