Library History with Heritage & University Archives

The history of libraries at Florida State University traces back almost 100 years to the 1920s. In 1923, FSU’s first library opened in what is now Dodd Hall. Dodd Hall served as the library for Florida State College for Women and then for Florida State University until Strozier Library was built in 1956.

The Library, undated, http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/2783613

The first record of university librarians is documented in the 1925 Florida State College for Women course catalog, which lists Louise Richardson as Librarian and Clara Rider Hayden as Assistant Librarian. By 1926, “Library Science” had become its own instruction area, composed of two classes: Library Methods and Advanced Library Methods. In 1929, Etta Lane Matthews was hired as the first professor of Library Science.

From 1935 Flastacowo, http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSUYB_1935

By June 1930, the Department of Library Science was officially established and had nine faculty and seven courses. The department had also received American Library Association accreditation to properly qualify students as librarians.

From the 1929 course catalog, http://purl.flvc.org/fsu/fd/FSU_HPUA_catalog_1929_v22n1_2

As the university continued to expand and move towards coeducational status in 1946, the Department of Library Science was restructured to offer a major in Library Science. In 1947, the department was renamed to the School of Library Training and Service and was established as a professional school offering a masters degree. This was Florida’s first nationally accredited professional school for the training of librarians.

Library science students studying, circa 1950s, http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/2708887

The new library building, now known as Strozier, opened in 1956. Between 1956 and 1958, major reorganization and expansion took place within the library. The Department of Special Collections was created during these years with the goal to “preserve and make available to scholars rare books and historical documents of Florida” (source 1956-58 President’s Report).

Excerpt from the President’s Report, 1954 – 1958,  http://purl.flvc.org/fcla/dt/332176

This excerpt from the 1954-58 President’s Report describes some of the amenities offered by the new library. It also makes clear that from the opening of the new library, university officials recognized a need for even more space. The addition mentioned in the last sentence of the excerpt became a reality in 1967, when the library was expanded to include a 5-story annex.

In the next installments of Library History with HUA, we’ll explore how the Department of Special Collections transformed and grew after its inception in 1956. We’ll also trace the next steps for the Department of Library Training and Service, or “The Library School” as it was referenced in the President’s Report, after 1947 and how it became the online degree program it is today.

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