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Office of the Director of Libraries records

 Collection 0056-UA

The Office of the Director of Libraries was established around 1905 to oversee the administration of the libraries of the University of Maryland. The Office of the Director of Libraries records are of an administrative nature and include correspondence, reports, studies, publications, and budget requests.


  • 1905-1989
  • Majority of material found within 1930-1975

Use and Access to Collection

This collection is open for research.

Duplication and Copyright Information

Photocopies of original materials may be provided for a fee and at the discretion of the curator. Please see our Duplication of Materials policy for more information. Queries regarding publication rights and copyright status of materials within this collection should be directed to the appropriate curator.


48.75 Linear Feet

Scope and Content of Collection

The records of the Library Director's Office cover the years 1905 through 1989 with the bulk of the material dating from 1930 to 1975.

The records include library correspondence, staff memos, annual and biennial reports, acquisition records, collection and equipment inventories, survey questionnaires and statistics. Also contained in the collection are budget requests, committee reports and minutes, organizational charts, brochures and pamphlets, drafts of articles, bibliographies, and blueprints of the library buildings.

The records document the growth of the University of Maryland Libraries from their beginnings as a single reading room in the Maryland Agricultural College to the current state-wide library system. Topics found in the collection include the planning of library facilities; acquisition of major collections and individual books and serials; formation of the library administration; development of library personnel policies and library service policies; interactions between the University Libraries and professional library associations, library networks, and state institutions; the effects of the Depression and World War II on the libraries; and the development of automated library services.

Many noteworthy University of Maryland at College Park (UMCP) staff and faculty members, as well as prominent Marylanders, corresponded with the Library Director's Office. In this collection are found letters from C. O. Appleman, Robert A. Beach, Jr., Frank Bentz, C. W. Cissel, Helen M. Clark, Ernest N. Cory, George W. Fogg, and R. Lee Hornbake. Other correspondents include Rev. James J. Kortendick, Albin Kuhn, Theodore McKeldin, Maude F. McKenney, Marie M. Mount, and Alma Preinkert; as well as Marion Robinson, Thomas S. Spence, Nettie Taylor, the Millard Tydings family, Walter B. Waetjin, Louis R. Wilson, Dr. H. Boyde Wylie, and all of the University Preisdents from Silveseter to Elkins. In addition, the head librarians/Library Directors are represented in the files: Frank B. Bomberger, Lulu E. Connor, Miltanna (Rowe) McVey, Grace Barnes, Carl Hintz, Howard Rovelstad, and Dr. H. Joanne Harrar. Until the university re-organization in 1970-71, the Library Director oversaw all university libraries. In 1996, Charles Lowry was hired as Dean of the Libraries on the College Park campus and the title "Library Director" was abandoned. In 2009, Patricia A. Steele became Dean of the Libraries at University of Maryland, College Park.

Administrative History

Ever since the University of Maryland at College Park opened in 1859 as the Maryland Agricultural College, the University has had a library. The Agricultural College began in a single large building which housed dormitories, the mess hall, faculty and administrative office, and lecture halls. The library, called the reading room, was located on the second floor. Students and faculty, who supported the reading room, stocked it with agricultural periodicals and local newspapers. By the 1880s, the reading room was becoming more like a traditional library. According to the 1886-1887 college catalog, the library held not only agricultural periodicals and newspapers, bu also "several hundred valuable books" which supported reference in the Agriculture and General Science departments. In addition to the reading rooms' collection, the New Mercer Literary Society, a student group, owned a collection of 1,500 volumes, and many professors had private libraries.

As enrollment in the Maryland Agricultural College increased, the College expanded both in number of buildings and in number of academic departments. In 1894, the College built a two-story building which housed the gymnasium on the first floor and the library on the second floor. This building, located to the north of Morrill Hall, later became the Dean of Women's building and was torn down in the late 1950s.

Over the next 20 years the library gradually became more central to the College. The 1900-1901 college catalog states that "the college library may properly be regarded as one of the departments of the insitution, as its aid for purposes of reference and its influence upon the mental development of the students must always be felt throughout all courses." The library no longer supported only agricultural and scientific studies, but branched out, as new departments were created, to contain "works of reference, history, biography, essays, poetry and standard works of fiction." Periodicals and books specific to the engineering and chemistry departments, however, were shelved in those departments. The library also began collecting government documents.

In 1901, a temporary Library Committee composed of faculty was created to oversee the library and to select books and periodicals for the collection. One of the committee members, F.B. Bomberger, professor of English and Civics, became temporary librarian. Under his direction the library began cataloging its collection using the Dewey Decimal system. In 1911, the College hired its first full-time worker who was responsible solely for the library when J. Keller Smith joined the College staff with the title of Assistant to the Librarian.

The library, like the College, continued to grow. In 1914, the College library merged with the library of the Agricultural Experiment Station to form a single library under one administrator. The resultant library contained 15,000 volumes and spread into the gymnasium on the first floor of the library building.

Lulu E. Connor was hired in 1915 as the College's first full-time professional librarian. She was succeeded, in 1918, by Miltanna (Rowe) McVey, and by Grace Barnes in 1923. The college catalog of 1917-1918 espoused the library's new philosophy:

"the central, basic idea of the administration of the library is service. It is frankly recognized that the Library should be a laboratory for the use of students, members of the faculty and members of the Experiment Station staff; and everything possible is done to make the Library popular."

During this time, the College was undergoing rapid changes. Maryland's General Assembly granted the College a new charter in 1916, which gave the state complete control over the College, and also renamed it the Maryland State College of Agriculture. Later, in 1920, the State Legislature merged the University of Maryland at Baltimore with Maryland State College at College Park. The combined state university took the name The University of Maryland.

As the state standardized and centralized its university system, the libraries also underwent standardization. Under McVey, the library recataloged its collection using Library of Congress catalog cards. The library also joined the Library of Congress' interlibrary loan network. By 1924, the library boasted a 13,500 "general" book collection and an 8,000 volume backlog which led to the hiring of the library's first full-time cataloger. The library, in 1925, was designated a depository for government documetns, making its older holdings of government documents even more important.

To emphasize the importance of the library, the University began requring all freshmen enrolled in the College of Arts and Sciences to take a course called "Library Methods." The University also created a permanent faculty Library Committee, in 1923, to guide the library's growth.

In 1931 the library moved into a new building, Shoemaker Hall, and occupied the second floor. By 1942, however, the library collection had grown so much that it took up the entire building and an annex. Materials pertaining to engineering, chemistry and entomology were shelved separately in their respective academic departments, but added to the collection in the main library were classical and general materials transferred from the library at the University of Maryland at Baltimore (UMAB).

The College Park library, in 1937, merged with the Baltimore campus library to fall under a single administrative head. Carl Hintz, in charge in the College Park library, received the title of University Librarian and became responsible for library services on both campuses. In 1943, his title changed to Director of Libraries. At that time he supervised eight librarians at College Park, as well as eight librarians at Baltimore.

Howard Rovelstad succeeded Carl Hintz as Director of Libraries in 1946. Under his guidance, the informal collections held in the engineering and chemistry departments became formal libraries. The Engineering and Physical Sciences Library opened in 1949 and was enlarged in 1968. The Chemistry Library opened in 1953, and, in 1975, it was moved to its present location and renamed the Charles E. White Library. Rovelstad also increased library service to students in other ways. For example, during the 1950s, the library sponsored a bookmobile which delivered books to off-campus students enrolled in the College of Special and Continuing Studies.

In fact, much of the 1950s, 1960s and 1970s were devoted to expanding library facilities and services. In 1958, McKeldin Library opened to replace Shoemaker Hall as the main library. To increase service to undergraduate students, Hornbake Library opened in the 1972-73 school year. On Hornbake Library's fourth floor was the Nonprint Media Center, the first section of the libraries devoted solely to audio-visual materials. The Architecture Library also opened in 1973, and the Art Library, another branch library opened in 1979.

Dr. H. Joanne Harrar became Director of Libraries in 1975. Under her administration, the libraries became increasingly diversified, acquiring new collections and adding new departments. For example, the National Trust for Historic Preservation donated its library, consisting of materials on the preservation of historic buidings and sites, to UMCP. The National Trust for Historic Preservation Library (NTL) is now a department in Special Collections. Another important collection is the International Piano Archives at Maryland (IPAM). The piano archives is world-renowned collection of materials related to the history of piano and piano performance; it was transferred to the University of Maryland in 1977 and is now housed at the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. In the late 1980s, increased resources were devoted to collection development and management with the establishment of a separate library division and positions for subject bibliographers. The staff of the Collection Management Division was given the responsibility for collection analysis and development and for workng with members of the faculty in specific subject areas. In addition, the National Public Broadcasting Archives was created in 1990 to preserve records from major public broadcasting organizations and individuals prominent in the field.

Another focus of Dr. Harrar's administration was the increasing use of computers in libraries. The GEAC online catalog system came up in the early 1980s; it served circulation, reserves, cataloging and reference functions and was one of the most innovative sytems of its day. In 1991, VICTOR, the online catalog module of the new CARL computer system, was introduced to the public. VICTOR linked the University of Maryland Libraries with university and public libraries across the United States. It also offered access to reference databases. The facilities continued to grow, and in 1993, an expansion and renovation of McKeldin Library was completed. Hornbake Library was renovated and is now home to numerous special collections, including Special Collections, which houses the National Trust Library, the Gordon W. Prange Collection and the broadcasting archives, and Library Media Services.


The records are organized into the following series and subseries:

Series 1
Correspondence, Memos, and Minutes
Series 2
Reports, Studies, Proposals, and Surveys
Series 3
Biennial Reports, Annual Reports, and Budget Requests
Series 4
Lists and Statistical Compilations
Series 5
Printed Brochures and Pamphlets
Series 6
Miscellaneous Records
Series 7

Custodial History and Acquisition Information

The Office of the Director of Libraries records were transferred to the University Archives from 1974 to 1979 by the Library Director's Office. The files of the Library Director's Staff Meetings were transferred in 1990 by the Associate Director of Public Services, University of Maryland, College Park Libraries.

Related Material

Additional materials are available on the history of the libraries at the University of Maryland. George H. Callcott's book, A History of the Universsity of Maryland, gives a general overview of how the libraries fit into the development of the UM system. The Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science contains an article on the UM libraries, and the university publications collection in the Archives and Manuscripts Department contains an extensive run of published materials concerning the libraries. There are also numerous, large unprocessed collections from many on-campus library departments.

Processing Information

The Office of the Director of Libraries records were divided into seven series and six subseries. Duplicate items were discarded, metal paper clips were removed and replaced by plastic clips, and the materials were placed in acid-free folders and boxes. Blueprints were transferred to oversize storage.

Guide to the Office of the Director of Libraries records
Guide written by Charlotte B. Brown.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note
Finding aid written in English.

Library Details

Part of the Special Collections and University Archives

University of Maryland Libraries
Hornbake Library
4130 Campus Drive
College Park Maryland 20742