Celebrating the 10th Anniversary of the Merrill-Cazier Library: Old Main Library
Old Main Library
Before 1930 the library occupied any place that was available. It started on the first floor of the south wing and was moved in 1893 to one of the curved front rooms in the north wing. When Old Main was finished and opened for the fall term in 1902, the library was moved to the north side of the second floor, directly over the President’s Office. Not until 1930 was a space specifically designed for a modern library operation.
College librarians had perennially pleaded for a separate library building to safely “store books and serve an enlarged student body” since at least 1912. During the 1920s’ National Summer School, college administrators seized an opportunity to publicize the institution’s library needs by surveying its visiting scholars. “The greatest handicap which I found was the limited library facilities,” wrote E. Lawrence Palmer of Cornell University. Similarly, R. C. McClain wrote, “except for a serious lack of library and reference material, U.A.C. has my highest recommendations.”
Under the chairmanship of B. L. Richards in 1927, the Alumni Association appointed a committee consisting of Paul V. Cardon, George Stewart, Ray B. West Sr., and W. W. Henderson to conduct a campaign to raise a $50,000 endowment for library support. George P. Barber was appointed treasurer of the fund. In June 1928, Richards reported that “a total of $50,177 in cash and pledges [had] been secured.” Richards went on to report that the association planned to “continue with the work of soliciting subscriptions next year, and to launch out among friends of the college other than alumni . . . The plan is to conduct a state-wide campaign.”
The Alumni Library Endowment never reached a level where it could be used for constructing the new library building. The endowment did generate funds for library support, however. In 1935, library consultant Charles H. Brown of Iowa State College commended the Alumni Library Fund by noting how “it is not often that such interest is shown in a state institution. Many other institutions are attempting such a program without the results secured at Logan. Both for the sake of the alumni themselves as well as the library, the present program should be encouraged and stimulated on every possible occasion.” As late as 1960, the endowment had provided nearly $15,000 to the library for the purchase of books and reference materials.
Edited from An Encyclopedic History of Utah State University by Robert Parson, University Archivist.