This is the fourth and final post in our series on the history of the library at Iowa State University. Need to catch up? Read our first, second, and third posts.
We left off last time after the second library addition in 1969. Thus far the story of the library has been about expansion, and this post is no different. Continuing with the trend, the library was acquiring materials rapidly to help meet the expanding student population and growth in programs at ISU. In 1967, the library had 680,027 bound volumes. About a decade later, that number had nearly doubled to 1,180,951 volumes. This does not include the other collection items such as serial titles, microfilm, and maps.
Between the 2nd and 3rd addition, the library also established the Special Collections Department and the Media/Microforms Center. The library collections were growing, straining the space in the existing library. Additionally, with a continuously growing student population, reading and study space in the library was also quite limited. Thus, the library needed to expand again.
The third expansion of the library was completed and opened on August 15, 1983, and largely transformed the library into what it looks like today. The addition took place in two stages: first was the addition and second was renovating the existing building. For example, the Periodical Room was restored while retaining its 1920s design. Overall, the third addition added a little over 70,000 square feet of usable space.*
One major change that came about with the third addition that anyone who has seen Parks Library will recognize is the glass front of the library.
Library 3rd Addition, University photos, box 259
You may be wondering why the library is known as the Parks library. The University President at the time of the second and third expansions was W. Robert Parks. He and his wife (Ellen Sorge Parks) were big supporters of the library and believed a strong library was essential to a strong university. President Parks was instrumental in securing funding for the expansion and renovation of the library. In order to honor his and his wife’s efforts, the library was dedicated as the Parks Library in a ceremony on June 8, 1984. A portrait of Mr. and Mrs. Parks hangs in the library; you can see it on the first floor on your way to Bookends Cafe.
Library staff putting up the Parks’ portrait in 2000, University photos, box 2043
Of course, these history of the library posts have focused on changes to the building, but a whole other set of posts could be devoted to changes in staffing, automation, and countless other changes and improvements the library has had over the years. If you are interested in exploring more, please visit the reading room!
*Post written with the help of “A Short History of the Iowa State University Library 1858-2007” by Kevin D. Hill.