Sunday, April 14, 2013

A History of National Library Week and Vise Library

Today is the start of National Library Week, which is a week-long celebration of the contributions of our nation's libraries and librarians. National Library Week is also intended to promote library use and support, and for that reason, all types of libraries- public, school, special, and academic- participate each year. Each day for the rest of the week, we will feature a librarian profile to celebrate our librarians here at Cumberland University!

To kick off National Library Week, here is an excerpt from "A History of Vise Library" written by Eloise Hitchcock.

Cumberland University was founded in 1842 with programs in the liberal arts, law and theology. During the Civil War, the campus was destroyed by fire, but reopened in 1866 with a “resurgence from the ashes.” The first mention of the Library in the college catalogue was in the academic year, 1858-1859. Under the Law Library it states, “each student pays the University Treasurer $1, which admits him to the Law Library. The contingent fund thus created is expended to increase the number of books in the Library.” The Law Library was located in Caruthers Hall, known as the “Law Barn,” and contained 6,500 volumes of standard law books.

By 1873, a University Library is established containing over six thousand volumes. Additionally, it is noted: “The Reading Room is supplied with the leading periodicals in the English language. They constitute, under their present admirable arrangement, a new feature in the University, and afford great advantages.” In the next year the collection grew to 7,000 volumes as “several hundred books and a number of valuable maps have been added to the Library, by donation, since the last catalogue.” In 1882, the collection was 8,000 volumes, and in 1883 it is noted that the Library is “free to all students.” In 1887, the collection grew
to ten thousand volumes, and by 1889, twelve thousand volumes were in the collection.

In the 1897 catalogue, Mrs. E. J. Hale is recognized for her gift of $1,000.00 “for the purpose of furnishing a room in the new University building . . . to be known as the Hale Reference Library, the Departmental Library of the Seminary. “The room is conveniently situated, commodious, well-lighted, finished in oak, and superbly furnished with oak chairs, tables, librarian’s desk, beautiful shelving and costly carpeting.” It is also noted that there is a General Library in Caruthers Hall.

In 1901, the University Library collection had grown to 15,000 volumes. It was in this year that the University received two thousand dollars from Mr. David Earle Mitchell “for the equipment of a library adapted to the special needs of the Literary department.” The Mitchell Library was established and occupied “a large and well-lighted room on the first floor of the University building, and thus is within easy reach of all students. It is handsomely equipped with sectional bookcases, elegant tables, and a cabinet mantel, etc. and at present contains some two thousand one hundred volumes.” During this time Cumberland housed four departmental libraries including the University Library, Hale Reference Library of Theology, the Law Library, and the Mitchell Library. A newly renovated Law Library opened in 1903 containing 3,000 volumes.

In October of 1989 a new library building opened its doors on campus. It is named the Doris & Harry Vise Library after its principle benefactor Harry Vise, founder of the Texas Boot Company and a Trustee Emeritus of the University. Mr. Vise, who currently lives in Nashville, is a Jewish immigrant who barely escaped Nazi Germany in 1939. Shortly after its construction, the building was selected as a winner of the Middle Tennessee Excellence in Development Award.

The Library is 18,000-square-feet and houses meeting rooms and study areas, computer and audio-visual facilities, the University Archives, and special collections in Tennessee History, Nobel Laureates, Women’s Studies, and Children’s and Young Adult Literature. The current collection [in 2010] consists of 35,000 volumes and an additional 35,000 e-books, as well as access to over 42,000 journals available through more than seventy-two full text online databases.

To read it in its entirety, check out the Spring 2010 issue of the Vise Connection newsletter, and be sure to visit tomorrow for a profile of Library Technical Assistant, Rick Brown.

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