Library History (1936-1948)

Library in Harvey Hall 1939

One problem that the library was not able to overcome at that time was student abuse of their library privileges. For years the library was "the place" to meet and was referred to in the 1936 Tower as "...a place of big dates and little books."16A quote from a gossip column in the Stoutonia illustrates the problem, "My black dress did its duty again last night at the dating-bureau (sophisticated, not sophomore) name for the library."17 Consequently, the noise level was always high, which was exacerbated by the bare floors, and the fact that the general reading/study area was in the same room as the circulation desk. The problem became so acute in 1938 that the Library Committee, Student Activities Committee, and the Stout Student Association met. The result was prepared cards that informed noisy students that they couldn't come to the library for a week. Even this did not seem to help. This difficulty was only overcome when the student center was built in 1959.

The consistent increase in the size of the library was placing continued pressure on the physical plant. By 1940, Froggatt wrote to President Nelson that: "In response to your questions about the need for a library building, I should like to say that the library can accommodate normal additions in books for two years."18 She went on to explain that storage space was exhausted and that there was not enough room for readers.


Crowded book stacks, ca. 1940Although the need was there and steps were being taken for the construction of a new library building, immediate hopes were shelved when World War II began.

The Second World War had a sad personal note for the Stout library. Former assistant librarian, Robert Bruce Antrim, died while he was in the service. He had worked at Stout from 1928 to 1942 and seems to have been a favorite among the students, as his name frequently appeared in the Stoutonia gossip columns.

 By the end of the war, the library was at a saturation point. It now housed close to 30,000 volumes; better than 500% more than when it moved to Harvey Hall.

Assistant Librarian Beulah Howison (1942-1975) stated that conditions were such that "...if the library was the heart of the institution, it would have had a coronary."19 The process of making plans for a new library took much longer than the actual construction of the building. Fortunately, Froggatt's M.A. thesis had been written about how to build a library. Hundreds of questionnaires and plans were studied before the ground breaking began to insure that the library would meet the needs of the institution.

Grounds Breaking ceremony for Pierce Library, 1952

--Kevin Thorie 

1924-1935 |  1936-1948  | 1949-1954