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History of UAlbany Libraries

University Libraries Breadcrumb Trail. About the Libraries Breadcrumb Trail. History of UAlbany Libraries


Normal School State Street

At the University at Albany, library resources and philanthropy have been linked since shortly after the founding of the State Normal School at Albany - the University's "ancestor" - in December 1844. Two months after the School opened, its first library opened in one room of a former train depot on State Street and the School received its first private donation, a bequest of $300 to purchase library books.

Mary Elizabeth Cobb

Mary Elizabeth Cobb

When the Normal School became a four-year liberal arts college for teachers in 1906, administrators realized the importance of establishing a more comprehensive library facility. Under the leadership of Mary Cobb (1916-56), the New York State Normal College's first professionally trained librarian, the library's collection grew from fewer than 4,000 to more than 53,000 volumes and moved, in 1933, from a single room in Draper Hall (on what is now the University's downtown campus) to the first floor of Hawley Hall next door. The basement of Hawley became the College Commons, a gathering place for students until early 1951 when it was converted into additional library space.

Hawley Library 1940 large

Hawley Library, 1940

University Library Dedication, November 15, 1968

University Library Dedication, November 15, 1968 (photo by Tae Moon Lee)

Dewey Graduate Library

Dewey Graduate Library

In 1962, when the College became one of the four State University of New York University Centers, Albany's Libraries embarked on two decades of rapid growth. As a result of the change from a liberal arts college to university, faculty, student population and library collections increased rapidly, necessitating an expanded facility to house the University. In 1966, during the construction of the Edward Durell Stone designed uptown campus, the Hawley Library was closed and the collections were moved to the University Library on the academic podium of the Uptown Campus. The University Library was dedicated two years later in November 1968. Hawley Hall was rededicated as a library in 1979, when it became the library for Rockefeller College and the graduate schools relocated to the downtown campus.

Joseph Z. Nitecki, <br />Director of Libraries, <br />1980-88, with One Millionth Volume

Joseph Z. Nitecki,
Director of Libraries,
1980-88, with One Millionth Volume

Albany's University Libraries celebrated the acquisition of their one millionth volume in 1982, marking a new milestone in their development. In 1988, the downtown campus library was renamed the Governor Thomas E. Dewey Graduate Library for Public Affairs and Policy. Following more than four decades of steady growth and development, the University Library outgrew its allocated space and the campus began planning a new facility in the early 1990s. In September 1999, the Science Library was opened on the uptown campus to house the Science Library, the M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives and the Library Preservation Laboratory. The building also houses International Programs and the New York State Writers Institute.

  Special Collections Reading Room

Marcia Brown Reading Room
M.E. Grenander Department of
Special Collections and Archives


Two Millionth Volume

Two Millionth Volume

Another milestone was reached on April 5, 2001 when Albany's Libraries celebrated the acquisition of their two millionth volume. The Libraries' collections are impressive, with particular strengths in psychology, education, biological sciences, criminal justice, business, anthropology (Meso-America), social welfare and library and information science.   The M. E. Grenander Department of Special Collections & Archives is located in the Science Library and is a repository for over 12,000 cubic feet of manuscript and archive collections, and over 75,000 rare and specialized book collections. Holdings include: the New York State Modern Political Archive; the National Death Penalty Archive;  the Intellectual Émigré Collection;  the Miriam Snow Mathes Historical Children's Literature Collection;  over 5,000 rare books from 1509- 1850; and the University Archives, containing the official records of the University at Albany and its predecessor institutions from its origins in 1844 to the present.

Two Millionth Volume Celebration

Two Millionth Volume Celebration

Electronic reference areaAs a member of the Association of Research Libraries (ARL), Albany's Libraries rank among the largest and most comprehensive research libraries in North America. A group of talented and dedicated librarians and staff provide reference assistance, consultation, instruction and other services to further teaching, learning and scholarship. For more information on Albany's Libraries, their collections and services, please see the Libraries' Web page under specific topics or services.

University Libraries, University at Albany, SUNY.

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