he Carnegie Library

On January 8, 1903, the Board of Trustees authorized President John H. Harris to apply for a gift of a library building. President Harris drew the plans for the interior of the building. In answering an appeal in 1904 from the Trustees for $ 50,000 for a library building, Andrew Carnegie replied that he would contribute $ 30,000 if the University would support the library to be housed in the building. Carnegie approved the plans drawn by Ackerman and Peabody of New York, and ground was broken for the building on June 21, 1904.

Note how far the central part of the original "Old Main" building (capped by the tower, at the right in the picture, behind the library) extended into the College quadrangle. West College is slightly visible at the left in the picture. The building as actually constructed was very slightly different, as can be seen in a photograph taken from the quadrangle side of the building.

The Carnegie Library Building in 1915

The building, 64 feet by 90 feet, was constructed of pressed brick with brownstone trim. It was dedicated on June 20, 1905. A reading room, 30 feet by 90 feet, in the center of the building, was surrounded by a gallery sixteen feet above the floor. Light for the reading room was provided during the day by a skylight, which is visible in this depiction. The reading room "...offer[ed] facilities for reading, studying, and writing." Offices and special collection rooms were on the first floor; stack rooms were on the second and third floors. The third floor contained only one room, which had no windows. It was located on the top-left side of the depiction ( above the small windows on the second floor ), and it extended from the center of the arch of the Seventh Street entrance to the end of the building. The building could accommodate about 150,000 volumes. In 1914, a biological museum was located on the second floor "...in two large rooms...", which contained the "...the principal collections..." that had "...been transferred from the Main College." Professor Nelson Fithian Davis was the Curator of the Museum.

The Function and Use of the Library in 1915

By 1915, the purpose of the library had changed from what it had been in 1895 when it had been located in Old Main. It was no longer simply a depository of materials with a reading room. The academic function of the Library and its relationship to the curriculum was described in the catalog in 1915:

The Library is regarded as a working laboratory for all departments of instruction, students being constantly cited to it in classroom work. In this way, while answering the purpose of general culture, it supplements in great measure the monographic treatment of text-book study, and the student is trained under competent guidance to become an investigator. The resulting practical acquaintance with books and bibliography proves a valuable part of liberal education.

The Library was used by all the students in the university, which included the Academy, the College and the Female Institute..

During term time both [reading room and library] are open forenoon and afternoon of each day, Sundays and holidays excepted, and both are maintained without extra charge to students. Students in all departments have free access to the shelves, and may draw two books at one time and retain them for two weeks, with the privilege of renewal, if desired.

In addition to the books in the Carnegie Library, there were also "...collections of special technical books...kept in the Laboratories of the Physical and Organic Sciences, and in the Astronomical Observatory."

"...offer[ed] facilities" CAT '15-'16. p. 89

"...in two large rooms..." ib.

"The Library is regarded..." ib., p. 90

"During term time..." ib., p. 89

"...collections of special..." ib., p. 90

The major source for the information on this page is the Minutes of the Board of Trustees of Bucknell University, 1882-1920 (BT '82-'20). Additional sources are Oliphant, Library of Bucknell University, the Bucknell University Bulletin (Fourteenth Series, January 1915, No. 4) Catalogue 1914-1915 (CAT '14-'15), and the Bucknell Uinversity Bulletin (Fifteenth Series, January1916, No. 4) Catalog 1915-1916 (CAT '15-'16).

This building in other years: 1945 | 1965 | 1985 | Current
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