The article “The Legacy of Mississippi State University Libraries: A Centennial Retrospective (2015)” takes a look back at the history and evolution of the Mississippi State University Libraries over the course of its first 100 years. From its humble beginnings as a small collection of books in a single room to its current status as a modern, technologically advanced research facility, the article explores the library’s growth and development, highlighting key milestones and achievements along the way. Through a combination of historical research and personal anecdotes, the article offers a fascinating glimpse into the rich legacy of one of Mississippi’s most important academic institutions.
Early Years: 1900-1920
During the early years of Mississippi State University Libraries, the institution was still known as Mississippi A&M College. The library was located in the Old Main building, which was destroyed by a fire in 1910. Despite this setback, the library continued to grow and expand its collection. In 1915, the library moved to a new building, which was specifically designed to house the growing collection. The library also began to offer services such as interlibrary loan and reference assistance during this time. The early years of Mississippi State University Libraries set the foundation for the institution’s continued growth and success in the years to come.
Growth and Expansion: 1920-1950
During the period of 1920-1950, Mississippi State University Libraries experienced significant growth and expansion. The library’s collection grew from 20,000 volumes to over 100,000 volumes, and the staff increased from two librarians to six. The library also moved to a new location in the newly constructed Swalm Hall in 1939, which provided more space for the growing collection and allowed for the addition of new services such as a reading room and a reference desk. The library’s role on campus also expanded during this time, as it became a central hub for research and academic support. The library’s growth and expansion during this period laid the foundation for its continued success in the decades to come.
The Golden Age: 1950-1970
During the Golden Age of Mississippi State University Libraries, from 1950 to 1970, the library system experienced significant growth and modernization. The main library building, Mitchell Memorial Library, was completed in 1953 and provided ample space for collections and services. The library also expanded its holdings, acquiring rare books and manuscripts, government documents, and microfilm collections.
In addition to physical growth, the library system also embraced new technologies during this time. The first computer was installed in the library in 1965, and the library began offering audiovisual materials for loan. The library also established a reference department and began offering instruction in research skills to students and faculty.
The Golden Age of Mississippi State University Libraries was a time of progress and innovation, setting the foundation for the modern library system that exists today.
Integration and Innovation: 1970-1990
During the period of 1970-1990, Mississippi State University Libraries underwent significant changes in both integration and innovation. In 1972, the library hired its first African American librarian, Dr. Ethel Young-Scurlock, who went on to become the first African American faculty member at the university to achieve tenure. This marked a significant step towards diversity and inclusivity within the library and the university as a whole.
In terms of innovation, the library implemented new technologies and services to better serve its patrons. In 1973, the library introduced its first computerized catalog, which allowed for easier access to the library’s collection. The library also began offering interlibrary loan services, allowing patrons to request materials from other libraries across the country.
The library’s commitment to innovation continued in the 1980s with the introduction of online databases and electronic journals. These resources allowed for faster and more efficient research, and the library became a leader in providing access to electronic resources in the state.
Overall, the period of 1970-1990 was a time of significant progress for Mississippi State University Libraries in terms of integration and innovation. The library’s commitment to diversity and inclusivity, as well as its dedication to providing cutting-edge resources and services, has helped to shape its legacy as a vital resource for the university and the community.
Technology and Modernization: 1990-2010
During the period of 1990-2010, technology and modernization played a significant role in shaping the landscape of Mississippi State University Libraries. The advent of the internet and digital technologies revolutionized the way information was accessed and disseminated. The library responded to these changes by investing in new technologies and expanding its digital collections. In 1995, the library launched its first website, providing users with access to online catalogs, databases, and other resources. The library also began digitizing its special collections, making rare and unique materials available to a wider audience. In addition, the library implemented new technologies to improve its services, such as self-checkout machines and automated book retrieval systems. These advancements helped to modernize the library and make it more accessible to the university community and beyond.
Special Collections and Archives
Mississippi State University Libraries’ Special Collections and Archives department is a treasure trove of historical artifacts and documents. The department houses rare books, manuscripts, photographs, and other materials that provide insight into the university’s rich history and the state of Mississippi as a whole. One of the most notable collections is the Ulysses S. The department also holds the papers of notable Mississippians such as author Eudora Welty and civil rights activist Fannie Lou Hamer. These collections are invaluable resources for researchers, scholars, and anyone interested in the history of Mississippi and the United States.
Outreach and Community Engagement
Mississippi State University Libraries have always been committed to outreach and community engagement. From hosting events and workshops to partnering with local organizations, the libraries have played an active role in serving the needs of the community. One of the most notable examples of this commitment is the Libraries’ participation in the Starkville Community Market. For several years, the Libraries have set up a booth at the market, providing information about library services and resources, as well as hosting activities for children. This outreach effort has helped to raise awareness about the Libraries and their role in the community, while also providing a fun and educational experience for market-goers. Additionally, the Libraries have partnered with local schools and organizations to provide programming and resources for students and educators. These efforts have included book drives, literacy programs, and workshops on topics such as research skills and digital literacy. Through these initiatives, the Libraries have demonstrated their dedication to serving the needs of the community and promoting lifelong learning.
Partnerships and Collaborations
Mississippi State University Libraries has a long history of partnerships and collaborations with various organizations and institutions. One of the most notable collaborations is with the Mississippi Digital Library (MDL), a statewide initiative that provides access to digital collections from libraries, archives, museums, and historical societies across Mississippi. The MDL has been a valuable resource for researchers, students, and the general public, and the partnership with MSU Libraries has helped to expand its reach and impact. MSU Libraries has also collaborated with other universities and libraries, including the University of Mississippi, the University of Alabama, and the University of Tennessee, to share resources and expertise. These partnerships have allowed MSU Libraries to offer a wider range of services and resources to its users, and have helped to strengthen the library community in Mississippi and beyond.
Library Leadership and Administration
The leadership and administration of Mississippi State University Libraries has played a crucial role in the institution’s success over the past century. From the early days of the library’s founding in 1915, to the present day, the library has been led by dedicated professionals who have worked tirelessly to ensure that the library remains a vital resource for students, faculty, and the community.
One of the most notable leaders in the history of Mississippi State University Libraries was Dr. Frances Coleman, who served as Dean of Libraries from 2009 to 2019. During her tenure, Dr. Coleman oversaw a number of major initiatives, including the construction of a new library building, the expansion of the library’s digital collections, and the implementation of new technologies to enhance the library’s services.
Under Dr. Coleman’s leadership, Mississippi State University Libraries also became a leader in the field of open access publishing, with the establishment of the Mississippi State University Libraries Open Access Fund. This fund provides financial support to faculty and researchers who wish to publish their work in open access journals, making their research more widely available to the public.
Today, Mississippi State University Libraries continues to be a leader in the field of library science, with a dedicated team of professionals who are committed to providing the best possible service to the university community. As the library celebrates its centennial, it is clear that its legacy of leadership and innovation will continue to shape the institution for many years to come.
Library Buildings and Spaces
The Mississippi State University Libraries have undergone significant changes over the past century, particularly in terms of their buildings and spaces. The first library building, constructed in 1909, was a small, one-room structure that housed just a few thousand volumes. Over the years, the library has expanded and moved to several different locations on campus, each time increasing in size and scope. Today, the Mitchell Memorial Library is the main library on campus, with over 1.8 million volumes and a variety of spaces for studying, research, and collaboration. The library also has several branch locations, including the College of Veterinary Medicine Library and the Architecture Library. In recent years, the library has undergone major renovations and updates, including the addition of a Starbucks café and a state-of-the-art digital media center. These changes reflect the evolving needs of students and faculty, as well as the library’s commitment to providing the best possible resources and services to the Mississippi State community.
Library Services and Programs
The Mississippi State University Libraries have always been committed to providing exceptional services and programs to its patrons. From the early days of the library’s establishment, the staff has worked tirelessly to ensure that students, faculty, and community members have access to the resources they need to succeed. Over the years, the library has implemented a variety of innovative programs and services to meet the changing needs of its users. These include everything from research assistance and interlibrary loan services to digital collections and instructional workshops. Today, the Mississippi State University Libraries continue to be a vital resource for the university and the surrounding community, offering a wide range of services and programs that support research, teaching, and learning.
Library Collections and Acquisitions
The Mississippi State University Libraries have a rich history of collecting and acquiring materials that support the research and teaching needs of the university community. Over the past century, the libraries have built a diverse collection of resources that includes books, journals, manuscripts, maps, and digital materials. The libraries’ collections are organized into subject areas, such as agriculture, engineering, and history, to facilitate access and discovery. In recent years, the libraries have also expanded their collections to include more diverse voices and perspectives, reflecting the university’s commitment to inclusivity and diversity. The acquisition process involves collaboration with faculty and staff to identify materials that support research and teaching, as well as partnerships with other libraries and vendors to acquire materials efficiently and cost-effectively. The libraries’ collections and acquisitions are a testament to their commitment to supporting the academic mission of Mississippi State University.
Library Staff and Personnel
The Mississippi State University Libraries have been an integral part of the university’s academic and research community for over a century. Throughout the years, the library staff and personnel have played a crucial role in the success of the libraries and the university as a whole. From the early days of the library’s founding to the present day, the staff and personnel have worked tirelessly to provide students, faculty, and researchers with the resources and support they need to excel in their academic pursuits.
One of the most notable figures in the history of the Mississippi State University Libraries is Dr. Frances Coleman, who served as the Dean of Libraries from 2009 to 2019. During her tenure, Dr. Coleman oversaw numerous initiatives and projects that transformed the libraries into a modern, state-of-the-art facility. She was instrumental in the creation of the John Grisham Room, a special collections area dedicated to the works of the famous author and Mississippi State alumnus. Dr. Coleman also played a key role in the development of the library’s digital collections, which have made thousands of rare and unique materials available to researchers around the world.
In addition to Dr. Coleman, there have been countless other staff and personnel who have contributed to the success of the Mississippi State University Libraries over the years. From librarians and archivists to support staff and student workers, each individual has played a vital role in ensuring that the libraries continue to meet the needs of the university community.
As the Mississippi State University Libraries celebrate their centennial, it is important to recognize and honor the contributions of the staff and personnel who have made it all possible. Their dedication, hard work, and commitment to excellence have helped to establish the libraries as a cornerstone of the university’s academic and research community, and their legacy will continue to inspire future generations of library professionals for years to come.
Library User Experience
The library user experience has evolved significantly over the past century, and Mississippi State University Libraries have been at the forefront of these changes. From the early days of card catalogs and physical books to the digital age of online databases and e-books, the library has adapted to meet the needs of its users. Today, the library offers a variety of services and resources to enhance the user experience, including 24/7 access to online materials, research assistance, and collaborative workspaces. As the library continues to evolve, it remains a vital resource for students, faculty, and the community.
Library Advocacy and Funding
One of the biggest challenges faced by libraries is securing funding to maintain and improve their services. Mississippi State University Libraries have been no exception to this struggle. However, the library has been fortunate to have strong advocates who have fought for its funding and recognition.
In the early 2000s, the library faced a budget crisis that threatened to severely limit its ability to provide resources and services to students and faculty. In response, a group of library supporters formed the Friends of the Library organization to advocate for increased funding and awareness of the library’s importance to the university community.
Their efforts paid off, and the library was able to secure additional funding to expand its collections and services. In 2010, the library received a $1 million donation from the estate of a former faculty member, which was used to establish an endowment for library acquisitions.
The library has also been proactive in seeking out grants and partnerships to support its programs and initiatives. In 2014, the library received a grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to digitize and preserve historical materials related to Mississippi’s civil rights movement.
Despite these successes, the library continues to face funding challenges. As the university’s budget has tightened in recent years, the library has had to make difficult decisions about which resources and services to prioritize.
However, the library’s advocates remain committed to ensuring that it receives the support it needs to continue serving the university community. Through their efforts, the library has become a vital resource for students, faculty, and researchers, and a testament to the enduring value of libraries in the digital age.
Library Future and Vision
The future of libraries is constantly evolving, and Mississippi State University Libraries is no exception. As technology advances and the way we access information changes, the library must adapt to meet the needs of its users. One vision for the future of MSU Libraries is to continue to expand its digital collections and resources, making them easily accessible to students and faculty both on and off campus. Additionally, the library hopes to create more collaborative spaces for students to work together and engage in group projects. As the library celebrates its centennial, it looks forward to continuing to serve the MSU community for many years to come.