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George A. Smathers Libraries History

Resurgence and Growth, 1946 - 1967


    Nelle Barmore continued as Acting University Librarian (1944-1946) until Vivian Prince took over briefly (July - November 1946). Stanley West was appointed Director of the University Libraries (1946-1967) on 18 November 1946.

    Since the early 1940s, consideration had been given to enlarging the Main Library and by 1948 planning was taking shape on its expansion. It was expected that the enlarged library would serve the university?s purposes for the following ten years. However, the university?s post-war objectives were ambitious. For the library this meant the development of a scholarly research collection to accommodate the increased emphasis on graduate work and research (enrollment in the graduate school was expected to double), reorganization of library collections and services in conjunction with the enlarged Main Library, development of the branch libraries (in particular those in law, education, biological sciences, chemistry, agriculture and engineering), inclusion of new activities due to the acquisition of audio-visual and microform materials, and improvement of services to handle the increased post-war enrollment. A renewed emphasis was also placed on the Floridiana and West Indies collections as a library collection specialty.

    Upon dedication of the enlarged Main Library on 30 March 1950, the P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History was moved from the Law College to the new building and the Creative Writing Collection was inaugurated with the donation of Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings books and papers, including the manuscripts for The Yearling and Cross Creek. In addition to providing more room for traditional materials and services, the newly enlarged library created space for new materials and services that were, in the words of Director West, ?growing so rapidly in importance? and had ?such far-reaching implications?. These new materials included audio-visual aids (films, records, microfilms, microcards, audio tapes, maps, etc.) that were becoming increasingly important in education and research. Demands for these materials grew so rapidly that budget estimates made a year previously were out of date before the end of the budget year. A special central fund was requested to deal with these acquisitions because the normal budget could not handle the growth of these new kinds of materials.

    Beginning in 1948, a separate fund was created to acquire Inter-American and Caribbean materials in order to support the growing academic interest at the university in Latin America. In addition, the library?s exchange program added materials to this collection, as did duplicate material from the Library of Congress, and in 1951 a Latin American Bibliographer was appointed. Despite growth in these new materials, and increased growth of the regular collections, the library still found its collections to be insufficient due to the poor budgets of previous years. While the university was second among Southern universities in enrollment and fourth among them in size of faculty, the library was only eighth in terms of number of volumes held.

    An organizational review of the library took place in 1948, since new areas of academic interest created needs that the library found difficult to keep up with. It was also during this time (1947) that an Assistant Director of Libraries position was created. Attention was also given to the professional development of the librarians with the start of a Department of Library Science within the College of Arts and Sciences during the Fall semester of 1949. This instructional program at the undergraduate level was intended to prepare students for admission to a graduate library school program and lasted until the early 1970s.

    The decade of the 1950s was one of continued post-war growth, both in student enrollment and in the library collection. In addition to the enlargement of the Main Library, there was a storage facility near the Gainesville airport, a University College Reading Room building west of the Main Library, and an increasing demand for college and departmental reading rooms. In 1951, a Subcommittee on Branch Libraries (of the Committee on University Libraries) was established to deal with branch library policies and to approve the establishment of new ones. A Rare Books Collection was established in 1951, as was an Archives Department and the Latin American Collection. Sara Y. Belknap established the Belknap Dance and Music Archives in 1953, and the Special Collections Department began in 1959. Portagraph photocopy machines were also placed in the Libraries in April 1959 (and it cost $0.20 a page to make a photocopy).

    President J. Hillis Miller established the University Archives on 24 March 1951 with a memorandum to deans, directors and administrative heads. President Miller explained that the core of the archives would be records in his office, then being used by Samuel Proctor to compile a history of the university. After this use they would be placed in the library to start the archives, which were to be increased through donations from the colleges and departments. Margaret E. Knox, Head of the Reference and Bibliography Department, issued the first report on The Archives - University of Florida in which she defined the archives and provided guidelines for what should be contained in the archives. The Special Collections Department was established in 1959 to improve the care and maintenance of several collections then held by the libraries, including the Creative Writing Collection, a poetry collection, the Rare Book Collection, and the archives.

    An important contribution to cooperative collection development and networking began in the 1940s and was joined by the libraries shortly afterward. In 1952, the libraries became part of the Farmington Plan, assuming responsibility for Caribbean publications in all subject areas. The Farmington Plan was proposed by the Library of Congress at a meeting in Farmington, Connecticut in 1942, developed by the Association of Research Libraries in 1944, and first implemented in 1948. It was an effort among American research libraries to cooperatively collect materials, with each library assuming responsibility for acquiring and maintaining publications in specific subject areas or geographic regions.

    Professional development of the Libraries also occurred during 1956 when the library was admitted to two prestigious groups. The library joined the Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (ASRL) as part of the original group when ASRL was inaugurated in 1956 and also joined the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) during the same year when only 42 libraries were members.

    Having moved from one building to another, one last expansion was made in 1956 when the Agriculture Library relocated to McCarty Hall in October 1956 and was named in honor of H. Harold Hume, Provost Emeritus for Agriculture and Dean Emeritus of the College of Agriculture (it was dedicated on 1 December 1956). Earlier in 1953, this library that began an outreach, or distance learning, program with the initiation of an annual workshop for librarians and Agriculture Experiment Station staff. Each year the workshop was held at one of the Stations, moving the program around the State.

    It became evident that the Main Library needed yet more library space and thought was given to expanding out behind the library, between it and Peabody Hall, and throughout the area between the Main Library and the Law College. This general area in the northeast corner of campus was considered future library space. Keyes D. Metcalf, Librarian at Harvard University, was brought in as a consultant on the library?s future development. He recommended an entirely new building be constructed rather than continuing to add piecemeal to the Main Library. As a result, and in keeping with thinking at the time, the Committee on University Libraries recommended in 1961 that a graduate library be built and that the Main Library become an undergraduate library.

    In addition to these considerations about the library?s future, another comprehensive review of the library system took place during Fall semester 1959 and was reported in February 1960 by the Subcommittee on Long-Range Library Development. Once again, the lack of space was emphasized, along with the problematic creation of departmental libraries and reading rooms by the academic departments to cope with the need for more materials and facilities. This report tied in with the Metcalf recommendations that were presented the following year, concluding that another library was definitely needed.

    Yet another report on the libraries was presented during Spring semester 1962, this time an institutional self-study which was part of a university wide study for the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. This study reviewed resources (books, periodicals and other materials), space (for resources and staff), staff (qualifications and competencies), organization, service quality, and financial support. None of these areas were deemed sufficient to meet the needs of a growing university, which experienced a 400% increase in annual enrollment during the post-war years. But even though there were insufficient book budgets, the lack of space for the collection was still a serious problem and 40,000 volumes had to be stored in Century Tower and the Auditorium basement.

    Due to the ever-expanding collection, the one millionth book was acquired and the celebration of this accomplishment took place 22 March 1963. This book was The Great Bible, a 1541 edition designed to supercede previous bibles and ordered to be placed in every church in England by Royal decree. Other important rare books were donated as well for the occasion, and the P. K. Yonge Laboratory School Library was dedicated in honor of Arthur R. Mead.

    Since the beginning, the library collected federal documents, in particular agricultural documents, and was already a federal and state depository library. In 1963 the Libraries became the Florida Regional Depository for federal documents. A Teaching Resources Center for audio-visual services was established at the Main Library in July 1965. This replaced the Audio-Visual Department established back in 1950 in order to better serve the increasing number of classes using this technology. A growing resource in this area was the microforms, which began to appear in the library?s holdings in the early 1960s. First came microcards and microfilm, followed in November 1962 by the first microfiche.

    As microform technology was taking hold, another technology was beginning to develop. In 1962, an assistant to the director for machine services was appointed to oversee the automation of various library services and to oversee the libraries role in an Information Retrieval Center for Florida. During 1963, some librarians began taking courses on computers offered at the university and others attended a workshop at the National Agriculture Library on automation of library services, which involved both advanced data processing and electronic technology. Other computer courses and conferences were attended at the University of Illinois Graduate School of Library Science (1965), at the university (1966, 1967), and at the Library of Congress (1966). This automation decade was capped off with the hiring of a Systems Analyst in 1968 and the appointment in 1969 of an Assistant Director for Systems.

    A Subcommittee on Library Development was established in 1966 to review branch libraries. During its first year it reported on problems with departmental libraries. Six satellite libraries were recognized and approved, including one for agriculture/biological sciences, architecture/fine arts, education, engineering/physical sciences/chemistry, health sciences, and law. Chemistry and physics each wanted to retain separate libraries (chemistry having had one for many years previously), and music and business administration both wanted their own libraries. In addition, a number of departments had reading rooms, particularly in the sciences. The Subcommittee was trying to determine if the policy to discourage departmental libraries should be discontinued or modified, and whether it would be advisable to combine chemistry, physics, mathematics, astronomy and geology into a central physical sciences library.

    The Subcommittee on the Impact of Automation on Libraries was also established in 1966 to consider the use, techniques and capabilities of electronic information processing, storage and retrieval on library services. Working with the University Business Office, the library developed a computerized circulation system. And in 1966, the library was one of fifteen to be invited to work with the Library of Congress in its first pilot project to develop a computerized catalog information system (the MARC project / Machine Readable Catalog Copy). By 1967, computer generated lists of serials were being produced. Planning for automation needs were being made and additional progress would be made in the following year. In November 1967, the Subcommittee on Library Development revealed its ideas for a centralized science library in order to prevent the proliferation of science branch libraries. This subcommittee thought the biological science collection should be incorporated in an expanded Hume Agriculture Library and a new building should be constructed at the Northwest corner of Newell Drive and Radio Road to house a physical sciences (or basic and applied sciences) library.

    Still other technologies were developing and in 1966 both the Law and Health Libraries participated in a long distance xerography project for transmitting photocopies via telephone lines. [Library News Letter, 1966] March 1967 saw the establishment of a GENESYS Library to support the university?s GENESYS program begun in Fall semester 1964. This Graduate Engineering Education System provided graduate courses for working engineers in Daytona Beach, Orlando and Cape Kennedy via a television network between GENESYS Centers at these three locations and the GENESYS program at the university.

    On 21-22 April 1967, the Graduate Research Library (Library West) was dedicated and the original Main Library (Library East/Smathers Library) became the undergraduate College Library. These names were changed to Library West and Library East in Fall 1970 when the original concept separating the collections changed. The new graduate library opened with space for about 600,000 volumes, 600 seats, 265 carrels, 34 faculty cubicles, and was designed so that an additional unit of about 80,000 sq. ft. could be added on the north side for additional growth in the future if needed. In addition, with increased stack space and a library dedicated to the undergraduates, the stacks were opened to the students. In Fall 1967, Stanley West left the University of Florida to be University Librarian at the University of Hawaii and Margaret Goggin became the Interim Director.

History by Vernon N. Kisling, Jr.

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