This week and next the library is open 24/7 to provide a space for students to prepare for semester finals. Apparently spending “countless hours” at the library is nothing new to ISU students!
Good luck with finals, everyone!
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.
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.
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.
The library has been through many expansions through the 20th century to meet the demands of a growing student population. Iowa State had a new library in 1925, but as quickly as 1930 the collection was too large for the bookshelf space. In 1940, an off-site storage facility was built to handle some of the overflow that had been stored in the Memorial Union and the Engineering Exhibit Hall.
While the collection already exceeded the size of the library, there were other pressures put on the library space starting in the mid-century. The university experienced a great period of growth after WWII due to the GI Bill and the Cold War, when the government was eager to fund the scientific research done at Iowa State. This period of growth was exacerbated by the incoming Baby Boom students. All of these factors put great pressure on the amount of study space in the library.
To address these issues, the first expansion opened in 1961. The new addition had 5 floors and added 52,000 square feet. One big innovation for this addition was open stacks, allowing students to browse the shelves and pick out books themselves. A glass rotunda was built for the new entrance on the south side of the building complete with staffed circulation desk to make sure materials did not make their way out of the library without being checked out.
Even brand new, the expanded library could only accommodate 75% of the 520,000 volume collection and did not contain the amount of study space recommended for the size of the student population. Tellingly, even as they were building the addition, it was referred to as the “First Addition”, which brings us, inevitably, to the Second Addition.
This addition was started in 1967 and completed in 1969. This expansion more than doubled the space for storing books and for users to work.*
In the 1969/70 school year, the library offered 7 courses. There were 4 undergraduate courses, each designed for students in different areas of study: home economics, sciences and humanities, engineering, and agriculture. Additionally, there were 3 courses, each aimed at different groups of graduate students.
Be sure to follow the blog to see the library further expand and get a name!
*Post written with the help of “A Short History of the Iowa State University Library 1858-2007” by Kevin D. Hill.
This is a first in a series of posts about the history of the library at Iowa State.
To kick off this series of posts about the history of the library at Iowa State, we’re going to take a look way back to nearly the founding of Iowa State University. Starting in 1868, the library was housed in Old Main. As Old Main held the entire college, it had a lot of functions including classrooms, museums, a chapel, dining halls, and housing for both faculty and students (to learn more about Old Main, visit our online exhibit). In 1880, the library had 6,000 volumes and was open from 2 pm to 9 pm. The library was run by students in the earliest days until 1876 when some professors were tasked with the double duty of scholarship and running the library. “From this time  the position was added to that of women teachers in mathematics, modern language, or elocution” (pg 80, The History of Iowa State College by Earle Dudley Ross).
In 1891, the library was moved to Morrill Hall, which was designed to house the library and a museum. It was in that same year that library instruction at ISU began. Freshmen took a 1 credit course during the second term titled “Library Work.” In 1893, the library had 10,200 volumes and was open from 8-9:30, closing over the noon and dinner hours.
Morrill Hall was the home of the library for just 23 years, and in 1914, the library was moved to Beardshear Hall, which was deemed to be more fireproof than Morrill. The library quickly outgrew all of the buildings it occupied, so plans were laid for the library to have a permanent home of its own that could hold all of the volumes in one place.
In the next post (coming in May), we’ll look at the beginning of the library in its current location (though much smaller than the library of today!)
There are many places in the archives to learn about the history of the library and other buildings on campus. A good place to start is the online exhibit From Prairie Sod to Campus Cornerstones: Building Our Campus History or the reference books found in the reading room. You can also check out some quick facts from the library’s website. To dive a little deeper, look through our finding aids and records in RS 4/8/4.
It’s Finals Week, and the library has been an especially busy place. Today, students can be found looking up resources on their (or the library’s) computers, but 50 years ago their searches looked more like this:
Of course, not everything has changed since then (although the card catalog is certainly a relic of the past). Students still spend a great deal of time studying in the library, and they are still spotted hunched over a table with a book, notebook, and pen. True, many of them have laptops or tablets with them as well, but the spirit is the same.
For those who still have exams, papers, and/or projects to complete, best of luck! For those who are done, congrats on a semester finished!
The card catalog. That gargantuan set of filing cabinets with drawers full of catalog record cards was oh, so useful in the days before wide-spread internet access. Now, of course, we search for the library items we want or need on the online catalog, which is easier in many ways. Many of you probably remember using the card catalog to find the books you wanted, not unlike the student in the photo below.This is how I learned to navigate libraries, too, and am part of the last generation to do so. Card catalogs bring about feelings of nostalgia in people – you can even purchase old ones to use for storage or conversation pieces in your home! However, moving the catalog online provided major benefits like saving space that can be used for other things like study areas or more stacks, and convenience – we can just type in a title and see right away if it’s available. Still, although the card catalog is more or less extinct in its natural habitat, it is an iconic piece of library history.
Feeling nostalgic? More photos of card catalogs in Parks Library can be found here. Also, in case you want to know about its origins and some fun facts, here is a history of the card catalog. Many more photographs involving the library or other buildings and departments on campus can be found in our University Photograph Collection – come in and see what we can find for you!
Ever wonder what the ISU Library was like in the early days? Well, I’m about to shed some light on that mystery with the photo below.
Originally, the Library was located in Old Main. In 1891, it was moved to Morrill Hall, where it resided on the first floor, south of the central stairway. In 1914, it was relocated to Beardshear Hall, and the Agricultural Extension Offices and Document Room took its place in Morrill. Construction of the Library’s very own building began in 1923. It was dedicated in 1925, and is still there today. Of course, it looks quite a bit different now due to renovations and additions.
This information and more can be found in our online exhibits, Morrill Hall: A Brief History and From Prairie Sod to Campus Cornerstones: Building Our Campus History. Also have a look at RS 4/8/4, Buildings and Grounds Records, for more information on the buildings in which the Library has resided. The photo above can be found on our Flickr site along with other library photos!
In the fall of 1969, Senator Gaylord Nelson from Wisconsin called for environmental teach-ins on college and university campuses throughout the country during the following spring. Nelson also called for a nationwide teach-in on April 22, 1970. With this movement, Earth Day was born.
Iowa State University Library supported the environmental teach-in movement, as we can see in this photo from the 1970s. Two students are holding a book entitled Man: An Endangered Species? from the Environmental Teach-In Collection.
Beginning in the 1970s, there have been many student environmental groups on campus, such as Ecodefenders (RS 22/4/0/1), Emerging Green Builders (RS 22/7/0/1), Engineers for a Sustainable World (RS 22/10/0/1), the Student Environmental Council (RS 22/4/0/1), among others. Collections for these groups are listed along with other environmental collections in our Environment and Sustainability Collections Guide. Come in and check out how ISU has been involved in the environmental movement!
Happy Earth Day!