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University Libraries records

 Record Group
Identifier: UA-3.15

Scope and Contents

The collection has numerous documents concerning the structure and development of the library. There are many newspaper clippings regarding events at the library and discussing library policies. There are also handbooks and pamphlets that give insight on how one would find publications. Correspondence, policy, and meeting minutes are also included in this collection. The collection also holds records of the First Midwest Academic Library Conference held at MSU in 1956. A detailed history is given for such things as the Dewey decimal system, opinion surveys, and literary articles published by the library, such as “Spartan Poets: A Preliminary Checklist.” Two pictures of a radiation display held in the library are also included. Ledgers detail books and serials that were acquired by the library, and contain circulation records from the late-1800s and early-1900s. Also included is the report “Michigan State College Memorabilia” which outlines how historical records relating to the university were collected and describes the foundations of the University Archives.

The collection also includes digitized recordings of Barnett Rosenberg Lectures from 1969 to 1989. Electronic Resources include e-mail memos from the Deans, Directors, and Chairs email listserv and a video about the G. Robert Vincent Voice Library.


  • Creation: 1872 - 2021


Conditions Governing Access

Collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Permission to publish material from this collection must be obtained from University Archives & Historical Collections, Michigan State University.

Historical Note

The first library at Michigan State University was established in 1865 under the direct supervision of the president. Later, it was supervised by University Services, and since 1967 has reported to the Provost's office. The library started with 200 volumes donated by John C. Holmes, one of the founders of the college, and was housed in a room on the third floor of College Hall, the college's first building. In 1862, student fees were used to buy materials for the library. In 1867 each professor was allowed $50 and later $100 request books in their fields. The room was open and supervised by a student for two hours a day. In 1871, the library moved from the third floor to the first floor when the chemistry department left. In 1881, it moved out of College Hall to the new Library/Museum building which is now called Linton Hall. The first librarian was George T. Fairchild, a professor of English Literature. He took on the duties of librarian in 1872 along with his other work. Mary Jane Cliff Merrill became the first full time librarian in 1883. She left the position in 1888 and was succeeded by Mary Abbot and Jane Sinclair. Linda Landon was appointed in 1891 and held the position for forty one years. In 1924, the library moved from Linton Hall to a new building specifically designated for it (which is now the MSU Museum). In 1925, there was a staff of nine to handle the work of the library. The physics building was converted into a library annex to give the growing library more space. In 1953, money was appropriated to build a new larger library. This building, which currently houses the main branch of MSU Libraries, was completed in 1955.

"In the 1970s, libraries began transforming their collections and operations to take advantage of newly developing technology. Card catalogs were automated; films and software joined books on the shelves; telecommunications allowed libraries to share information quickly and easily. In 1989, the MSU Libraries’ catalog went online, allowing users to perform searches in a few seconds that took hours with the card catalog." [from]

By the year 2000, the MSU Libraries had over four million volumes in its collections, and offered services 24-hours a day.


8 Cubic Feet

Language of Materials


Preservica Public URL|51e897cd-7363-4f30-979c-9c1f9354595c/

Legal Status

Donor(s) have transferred any applicable copyright to Michigan State University but the collection may contain third-party materials for which copyright was not transferred. Copyright restrictions may apply. Property Rights: Michigan State University.

Michigan State University Libraries Records
4 Published And Cataloged
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
  • TypeCollection

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives and Historical Collections Repository

Conrad Hall
943 Conrad Road, Room 101
East Lansing MI 48824 US