The History of the University of Arkansas Libraries
The University of Arkansas has had a library for as long as it has had buildings. What began as one room with 137 books in a wood-frame building in 1872 has evolved into the five University Libraries on campus today. "The History of the University of Arkansas Library," an exhibit on the lobby level of Mullins Library, includes photos and artifacts from Special Collections documenting how the library has transformed over the university's 150-year history. It will be on display through January 2022.
"The library has been at the center of campus literally and symbolically from the U of A's first days, and it's always served the whole community," said Catherine Wallack, architectural records archivist and curator of the exhibit. "A glimpse at the history of the library, on one hand, gives an encapsulated view of the evolving character of the university. On the other hand, there are some very esoteric things that were once wonderfully unique to the library experience: the necessity of rubber due-date stamps, the heft of a card catalog drawer and librarians' seemingly eternal efforts to maintain a quiet environment. This exhibit captures both those aspects, even as the library continues to transform to better meet the needs of everyone who uses it."
Photos in the exhibit provide glimpses into the library's previous locations, including Old Main and Vol Walker Hall. Other items include a carousel of due date stamps, newspaper clippings, a leaflet from the 1940s for faculty with "An Invitation to Get Acquainted," catalog cards and more.
Special Collections supports the research, teaching and learning mission of the University of Arkansas by collecting, preserving and providing access to unique and rare materials.
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