University Libraries prepares to turn 100

Erin Vanjo

The first library on the Kent State campus opened its doors 99 years ago in Merrill Hall on May 14, 1913. This was the first of what would eventually become University Libraries.

“The libraries has changed a lot in 100 years, and the future will be continuing change,” Library and Media Services Dean James Bracken said.

The first University Library opened at one location with 3,680 volumes. This number has grown to 1.5 million books in 13 locations.

Bracken said the libraries’ underlying philosophy has changed. He said in the past, most academic libraries focused on obtaining collections and owning content. This idea has changed.

“With better communication, mostly through computerization and other information technologies like digitalization, libraries have learned that we don’t have to try to have everything if we give our users access to content regardless of its location,” Bracken said.

This change in philosophy has given the libraries the chance to focus more on their users, which in turn allowed them to think about better uses for their staff and space.

“Because of better, or at least new, ways of access to collections, the libraries can create new and better spaces for users like the Fab Fourth,” Bracken said.

Currently, the University Library is installing bathrooms on the first floor and renovating the bathrooms on the third, fourth and fifth floors. These renovations should be complete by Fall 2012.

In the future, library users can expect to see even more changes, and these changes will be focus on users.

“The future will be continuing change, especially in relation to providing users with better access to content and services as the Libraries discover new and different ways to support teaching, research, learning and fun,” Bracken said.

Bracken said he doesn’t think the libraries get enough use, and he hopes this changes in the future.

“We dare our community to use us up,” Bracken said.

Throughout the changes that have happened in the past and the changes that will happen in the future, some aspects of the libraries will continue to stay the same.

“In the libraries, the university community will find dedicated professionals who are willing to help them navigate and take full advantage of the world of accessible information,” Bracken said.

University Libraries plans to celebrate its Centennial throughout the 2012-2013 school year, beginning at homecoming. The events include participation in the parade and lunch at University Library.

Contact Erin Vanjo at [email protected].