Northwestern University, established in 1851, is one of the leading private research universities of the United States, with an annual budget of more than $1 billion, an enrollment of approximately 15,800 full-time and part-time students, and a staff of 5,700 (2002). Its eleven schools and colleges are located on two attractive campuses along the shores of Lake Michigan, in Evanston and Chicago. Northwestern’s libraries hold over 4,100,000 volumes, with a total annual budget exceeding $22,000,000 and a dedicated endowment of over $70,000,000 (2000-2001). With collections of international standing in Music, Transportation, and African Studies, Northwestern’s libraries have historically also been at the forefront of innovation in library technology—NOTIS was created at Northwestern in the 1960s and 70s—and advanced user services, e.g. electronic reserves.
On May 30, 1850, a handful of local businessmen and ministers met above a hardware store at 69 West Lake Street in Chicago and resolved to establish a university under the patronage of the Methodist Episcopal Church. Though granted a charter by the State of Illinois on January 28, 1851, four years would pass before a first university structure, later known as Old College, would be built on the 379-acre tract of marshy lakeshore land 12 miles north of Chicago that the founders had purchased. Once there was a building, classes could begin, and in November 1855 Northwestern’s ten enrolled students began their instruction, taught by a faculty of two: Henry S. Noyes in mathematics and William D. Godman in Greek language and literature. In 1859, Northwestern graduated its first four students with bachelor degrees.
“The commencement of a library” for Northwestern was approved by the fledgling university’s Board of Trustees during the summer of 1856 and an annual budget of $1,000 was approved (1). Professor Godman was appointed the college’s first librarian. Godman oversaw the refitting of a room on the third floor of Old College “in a suitable manner” for a library, and also acquired the Library’s first books, which by June 1857 numbered 1,977. Godman was succeeded in 1858 by Daniel Bonbright, a professor of Latin who had studied in Bonn and Göttingen. Over the next twelve years, under Bonbright’s supervision and then under that of his successor, Louis Kistler, the Library grew slowly, as documented by a title list prepared by the Library’s first recorded student assistant, Charles Kimball Bannister, in 1868 (2). Bannister’s catalog lists about 3,000 volumes.
One year after Bannister’s inventory, however, an event thousands of miles away would transform Northwestern’s library radically (3). Johannes Schulze (1786–1869), a high official in the Prussian educational bureaucracy and a close associate of the German luminaries of the age—among these Goethe, Schopenhauer, Hegel, and v. Ranke—died in February 1869, leaving behind a library of over 20,000 volumes that German library historian Georg Leyh described as one of the great private collections of the 19th century (4). In July 1869, Schulze's son Max offered his father’s library to the Prussian government for the high but worthy price of 7500 Thaler—the equivalent of about 7000 US dollars at the time. The Prussian government, with other things on its mind on the eve of war with France, declined the purchase. Daniel Bonbright, no longer university librarian but still active in library affairs (as he would remain until shortly before his death), happened to be on a research visit in Paris at the time and heard of the availability of Schulze’s library from the American consul. He immediately traveled to Berlin to inspect the collection, wisely also commissioning an independent evaluation by Wilhelm David Koner, the librarian at the Royal University in Berlin. Koner's report, dated March 17, 1870, extolled the value of this “painstakingly” assembled collection, concluding that “for a new university, where it is desired to establish a library in aid of the studies there to be pursued, the purchase of this collection[,] remarkable in many directions, is to be warmly recommended. It would at least serve as an admirable nucleus around which a great library might gradually grow” (5). In the following decades, it did. Following Bonbright’s urgent recommendation, Northwestern’s leadership acted quickly. University trustee Luther L. Greenleaf ceded ownership of two parcels of nearby land to cover the expense of purchase and shipping—as it turned out, just over a year before he would lose everything in the Great Chicago Fire. The “Greenleaf Library,” as the purchase was named in his honor, increased the size of Northwestern’s library sevenfold. With it, 17 incunabula and dozens of richly produced volumes created by the famous printing dynasties of 16th and 17th century Europe came to the wooded shores of Lake Michigan, among the latter the earliest works printed in Greek by Aldus Manutius in Venice and scientific texts printed by Elsevir in the Netherlands. As late as 1925, German library historian Karl M. Meyer would express "regret that this library could not have been kept for the Reich" (6). The Greenleaf Library is today one of Northwestern’s great treasures (7).
The arrival of the Greenleaf Library in Evanston in 1870 coincided with the relocation of the Library from its increasingly cramped quarters in Old College to the third floor of the new and resplendent University Hall, an imposing limestone structure that stands to this day, housing Northwestern’s Department of English. The space allocated to the library measured 70 by 20 feet and was filled completely by 1873, thus foreshadowing the space problems that would plague the university library for the next 130 years. Even so, in the following years the collection continued to be developed aggressively. In addition to acquiring a number of libraries from retiring or deceased faculty, further significant expansion was made possible, in 1876, by the library being designated a depository of U.S. Government publications. By 1894, close to one-third of the Library’s collections consisted of government publications.
1876 also marked the end of the era of faculty-librarians at Northwestern, when Horace Gray Lunt, a Chicago attorney and son of university co-founder Orrington Lunt, assumed the office. Student protests over limited access to what until then had been exclusively a faculty collection and over the chronic absence of the faculty-librarians (and Lunt was perhaps even less in evidence than his faculty predecessors) led to the expansion of the role of student assistants and the introduction of very circumscribed student borrowing privileges by the end of the decade. In these years, senior student assistants became increasingly responsible for the actual operations of the library. Of these, two—George E. Wire (’83) and Lodilla Ambrose (’87)—went on to direct the university library, Ambrose remaining in office until 1908. The prerequisite for this professionalization of the position was, of course, the consent of the faculty to discontinue the honorific practice of naming a faculty member as university librarian, which it voted to do in 1889.
As part of his early activities after becoming university president in 1890, Henry Wade Rogers pushed the trustees hard to finance a new library building. His efforts were successful, and in 1894, the Orrington Lunt Library, named after its major donor, an ambitious edifice in Italianate style, was dedicated. It was, from the standpoint of architectural grandeur as well as staff and user convenience, “not surpassed by any library in the country,” and served as a fitting home for “one of the finest, if not the finest college library in the West” (8). In the following two decades, Northwestern grew to attain the third highest enrollment (1908: 2,900) of any university in the United States, making the provision of first-class library services a high priority. Northwestern’s Lunt Library, initially under Lodilla Ambrose’s diligent and full-time leadership, with a staff of eight, and with 66 hours of public access by 1901, met the university’s needs well until Ambrose’s departure in 1908, when space again became a serious issue. Yet it would be 24 more years before relief would come, again as a result of donor benefactions.
Ambrose’s successor, Walter Lichtenstein, was also a professional librarian. A respected bibliographer at Harvard, Lichtenstein had been the curator of the Hohenzollern Collection at Harvard College Library, created in honor of Kaiser Wilhelm’s visit to Cambridge in 1902. At Northwestern, Lichtenstein worked hard and with success to catalog and classify hitherto “hidden” collections—roughly 40,000 volumes in his first few years alone—, to increase the staff to acceptable levels, but above all to expand the collections and to lobby for their adequate storage. Although he had no success with this latter goal, he was smashingly successful with the others. He conducted book-buying trips in Europe and, from 1913 to 1915, to South America, journeys that were in no small measure responsible for the growth of Northwestern’s book collections from 75,000 to 116,000 during his ten-year tenure—not counting the further growth of government publications from 50,000 to 85,000. Yet allegations of pro-German activities while in South America led to the confiscation of his passport and, in 1918, to his abrupt dismissal from Northwestern (9). Lichtenstein did not live out his days in ignominy, however: he began a successful career as a banker in Chicago and, in 1945, was called to Germany by the U.S. military government as head of the Financial Institutions Division.
The demoralization that Lichtenstein’s departure left in its wake in 1918 was compounded by a 40% staff reduction, inadequate funding for the increasingly voracious research and teaching needs of the Northwestern community (circulation more than doubled between 1908 and 1918, from 45,000 to 96,000), but above all by the desperately inadequate space conditions. Lichtenstein had placed the Latin and Greek collections into storage, yet still, window ledges, stairways, desks, and even user seating in Lunt Library were all gradually being converted into storage space. To grapple with these challenges, the board of trustees in 1919 appointed Theodore Wesley Koch (1871–1941) as the new university librarian. Koch presided over an exciting era in the history of Northwestern’s library, ending only with his death in 1941.
Like Lichtenstein before him, Koch already had enjoyed a distinguished career as a librarian at such prestigious institutions as Cornell, the Library of Congress, and Michigan. He was also a distinguished writer and homme de lettres, specializing—to the delight of Northwestern’s faculty, students, and donor community—in bibliophile topics, translating, for example, Flaubert’s Bibliomanie from the French (1929) and Julius R. Haarhaus’s Maculaturalia from the German (1932). He made felicitous personnel decisions, made the best of an increasingly inadequate physical plant—and lobbied all the while for a new building. Whether as a result of Koch’s efforts or simply a fortuitous circumstance, the bequest to Northwestern by agricultural equipment magnate Charles Deering (1852–1927), announced in 1929, was earmarked for a new building. The result was Charles Deering Library, built in emulation of King’s College Chapel, Cambridge, that opened in January 1933, had a capacity of 500,000 volumes (not including government publications) and seating for 900 readers. Deering Library was built at a cost of $1,250,000 to a design by James Gamble Rogers. Taken together with its setting on higher ground overlooking Deering Meadow and facing, at a patrician remove, Sheridan Avenue, Deering Library is recognized today as the university’s most prominent landmark.
Koch’s reputation and charisma facilitated the gift of important books and collections to the university library—indeed, as Rolf Erickson points out in his library history (p. 216), “it was not uncommon during his administration to find that the number of gift volumes often equaled that of volumes purchased.” Koch managed to attract a women’s collection to Northwestern (now known as the Biblioteca Femina), a collection of 3,000 volumes assembled for the International Congress of Women, held in Chicago during the Century of Progress Exhibition in 1933. Koch also exploited the depressed book market of the 1930s to make buying trips, purchasing in London, to offer up just one testimony to his acquisitions acumen, the extraordinary architectural portfolio of Etienne Louis Boullée (1728–1799), Mémoire sur les moyens de procurer à la Bibliothèque du roi les avantages que ce monument exige ... (1785), for a mere six pounds.
During his 22-year tenure as university librarian, Koch presided over a spectacular solution to the library’s space problems, the trebling of the collections from 120,000 to 377,000 volumes, and an increase in circulation, between 1931 and 1940, from 220,000 to 320,000. Upon his unexpected death in 1941, he was succeeded by his valued assistant university librarian, Effie A. Keith, who at the time of Koch’s arrival had been head of cataloging and throughout her career enjoyed high standing as a competent administrator. Keith managed to make advances despite the war years. The two signal accomplishments of her administration were the creation of a 25,000-volume library for the new Technological Institute that opened in September 1942 and the acquisition of the library of anthropologist Franz Boas, numbering 15,000 volumes, through the efforts of Melville J. Herskovits (1895–1963). This was the birth moment of Northwestern’s Africana Collection, now the single largest separate collection in the world of materials from or relating to Africa.
Under Keith’s successor, the Danish-born librarian Jens Nyholm (1900–1983), the organizational contours of today’s modern research library at Northwestern finally began to emerge. Earlier attempts under Lichtenstein and Koch to physically consolidate the various departmental libraries into a single “main” library and to create a unified acquisitions budget had had some success, but ultimately foundered due to lack of space and then, after that had been resolved, on faculty resistance and lack of support for reorganization efforts by the university administration. Almost immediately upon arriving at Northwestern, Nyholm solicited and received the backing of university president Franklyn Snyder for either physically relocating departmental libraries to Deering or, at the very least, having them placed under the direction of the university librarian. (In 1945, for example, Nyholm assumed responsibility for the Technological Institute Library from the dean of the institute.) Similar reorganization affected the Music and Curriculum libraries. Ultimately, the only remaining independent library on the Evanston campus was that of the Astronomy Department, which was not merged into the common administrative structure until 1961.
In 1947, Nyholm also centralized all technical processing functions under a single division head—an organizational solution that prevails today. The “chief of reference and special services,” a senior administrative position that Nyholm instituted in 1950, similarly presaged today’s post of Assistant University Librarian for Public Services. Nyholm, ever the ambitious organizer, also reached beyond the confines of Northwestern. He instituted a “library council” which brought together the university librarian and the librarians of Northwestern’s four Chicago campus libraries. And in 1949, Nyholm made Northwestern a founding member of the Midwest Inter-Library Cooperative (MILC), later to become the Center for Research Libraries (CRL), originally conceived as a cooperative storage facility that today may be on the verge of becoming a key player in the elaboration of a national knowledge management agenda.
Nyholm, like a number of his predecessors, was also an avid and enterprising collection developer, concentrating on the acquisition of entire collections rather than significant individual items. Among additions Nyholm made to Northwestern’s library—especially to the rare book collections (now the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections)—were World War II underground materials from Denmark and Greece (1946); a 900-volume Boswell and Johnson collection (1947); important collections of French Revolution pamphlets (7,300) and manuscripts (150); and 5,000 volumes of Western Americana.
The one-million-volume mark for holdings at both the Evanston and Chicago campuses was commemorated at a ceremony on July 26, 1950 and Northwestern was poised to repeat the cycle of growth and congestion that had characterized the history of the library over its first century. In 1952, in an effort to relieve immediate pressure, storage space was obtained in nearby campus buildings for 26,000 books, and four years later, space for 500,000 volumes was secured in a nearby underground “Annex.” But by 1960, it had become clear that stopgap measures were no longer adequate, and in 1961, university president J. Roscoe Miller appointed a Library Planning and Building Committee with Clarence L. Ver Steeg (History) as chair. With extensive input from members of the university committee and working closely with architect Walter S. Netsch, Jr., of Skidmore, Owings and Merrill (10), the committee oversaw the creation of the new building, completed in 1970 at an expense of over $12 million. Although Nyholm had spent the last years of his administration planning the new library, it fell to his successor, Thomas R. Buckman—who succeeded Nyholm in September 1968—to accomplish the gargantuan task of moving into it. The physical move happened in the dead of winter 1969–70 and was completed in about a month. The new library began operation on January 19, 1970, and was dedicated in a ceremony on the new library plaza on October 21, 1970.
During his brief tenure—Buckman resigned in June 1971 to become president of the Foundation Center in New York—the library experienced a number of important organizational changes that have persisted to the present, including the annual performance review process and the creation of a tier of senior administrators known as assistant university librarians.
When John P. McGowan became university librarian in July 1971, he was already intimately familiar with Northwestern’s libraries. From 1955 to 1959, before assuming the directorship of the library at the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, he had been the librarian of the Technological Institute Library. In 1966, he returned to Northwestern as associate university librarian for engineering and science and at same time, again, Technological Institute Librarian.
From the moment of his return to Northwestern in 1966, McGowan showed a particular interest in library automation—and indeed his specific charge from Jens Nyholm was to have an automated system in place by the time the new library building opened. In 1967, he launched the University Library Automation Project, recruiting a member of Northwestern’s Electrical Engineering faculty, James Aagaard, and a systems analyst, Velma Veneziano, to join the library staff and begin designing a system to automate a variety of standard library operations. Aagaard had already invested considerable thought in the problems of library automation. In a memo entitled “Suggestions for a Proposal: Library Data Processing” dated February 27, 1964, he had written: “We should propose an integrated approach to all of the library’s operations, since this represents the greatest economy in data preparation . . . . The emphasis should be on doing something; not studying the problem. Funding agencies might well be tired of paying for studies by now.” Veneziano, after studying library processes, championed a revolutionary break with batch processing solutions, which at the time were still the most accepted applications of computers to workflow problems. Instead, she daringly advocated an on-line system, “not a batch system which poured out piles of paper which immediately became obsolete” (11). The first part of the plan that was ultimately developed—a fully online library circulation system—began operation the day the new library opened in January 1970. It utilized terminals connected by telephone lines to a central computer, an IBM 360/30 with 65,536 bytes of storage, located in the University’s Department of Administrative Data Processing. The beginning was not easy. “The first three months of operation were especially harrowing,” Veneziano wrote later. “There were times when only the realization that the bridges back to the old system were burned kept the staff plugging away with a system which often seemed in imminent danger of collapse.” (12) Yet operations gradually became smoother and the Northwestern automated circulation system began to attract attention as the first of its kind in the world. A group of five prominent German librarians visiting in 1972 were dazzled by what they found: “Northwestern University Library was a surprise with its extraordinary activity in the automation sector. . . . [It] has the distinction of being at the very forefront in automation among American libraries.” (13)
Over the following years, NOTIS—as the new system was christened in 1976 (14), short for “Northwestern On-Line Total Integrated System”—expanded into other areas of library information management, e.g. cataloging and acquisition—and became increasingly robust. In 1975, CRT terminals replaced typewriter terminals and other technological improvements began to facilitate direct use of the system by the user community. Indeed, over time, the goal of the library’s Information Systems Development Office (ISDO) evolved from the creation of a “library management system” ever more in the direction of public services. This new priority led to the development of an online public access catalog, LUIS, which developed on the basis of the older LCUS, the Library Circulation User System, and premiered in 1980. In the meantime, research libraries across the country began to “take notice” of the new system developed at Northwestern. Over a four-year period, the library was visited by representatives of over 200 institutions from all over the world. The University of Florida and Harvard were among the earliest adopters of NOTIS—but at the time Northwestern was not prepared to support NOTIS operation elsewhere. An exception was made for the National Library of Venezuela, where NOTIS was introduced as a joint bibliographic project and ultimately became an “internationally recognized success story” (15). Recognizing the need for a system such as NOTIS and in light of its clear commercial potential, consultants from EDUCOM recommended in August 1980 that the university begin to offer it as a commercial product, and sale of the system began in 1981.
During the following years, the marketed version of NOTIS and the version in use at Northwestern began to diverge ever more significantly, and the strain on the organization was great. Ultimately it was decided to divest the former. After failing to sell the technology to firms in the information sector, the university decided to set up its own for-profit corporation, NOTIS Systems, Inc., in September 1987. President of the company was Jane Burke, who had been centrally involved with the development and, especially, the marketing of the system at Northwestern from December 1983 on. NOTIS would go on and have its own history—Jane Burke and others from NOTIS would ultimately go on to found Endeavor Information Systems, the creators of Voyager—Northwestern’s current library information system (see below). But the early years of NOTIS were glory years for the university library. Ultimately, it would be adopted by over 160 institutions at more than 200 sites in the United States and abroad. In July 1985, for their many contributions, James Aagaard and Velma Veneziano were given the LITA/Gaylord Award for Achievement in Library and Information Technology. And in 1989, John P. McGowan received the ACRL Academic or Research Librarian of the Year Award (16). The citation recognized him as “truly a pioneer of library automation.”
During the final years of John McGowan’s administration, he became ill. Lance Query formally assumed the role of acting university librarian between August 1991 and July 1992.
In 1991, a library self-study, prepared as part of a program review of the entire university, seemed to capture the mood of the library at a transitional moment, characterized by pride in past accomplishments, but also pessimism and a belief “that the Library lacks a fully articulated vision” for the future. The self-study also made the case that the cost of the technological advances of the preceding twenty years had been neglect of library collections that support the core disciplines, which had been allowed to deteriorate “to mediocrity and inadequacy.” (17) The external reviewers of the library, led by David Stam of Syracuse University, felt by contrast that the library was in fact very strong, “in spite of the internal perspective that there has been severe organizational decline.” (18)
This was the situation that greeted David F. Bishop, university librarian at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, when he assumed his post as Northwestern’s university librarian on July 1, 1992. His task was to restore the self-confidence of the organization and return to it a sense of forward motion, affirming its continuing role as “the center of scholarship and intellectual exploration at Northwestern.” (19)
Accomplishments of the Bishop years have included an improved intra-organizational communications culture, with the inception of Management Council (see “Governance and Administration,” below). Bishop also moved quickly to complete the retrospective conversion project, accomplished by 1996. This in turn permitted the removal of the card catalog from the main foyer of the library and the rededication of this prime space for the creation of a General Information Center, an idea developed by the Vision of Library Technology Task Force chaired by Mary Case in August 1993 as the “centerpiece” of a new service concept, offering users “assistance with the Library’s database and gateway systems, guidance to appropriate departments for in-depth and subject-specific research assistance, and answers about access, both to the Library and its databases.” (20) Other improvements in public areas have included the merging of newspaper, serials, and microfilm services into a single space; a reconfiguration of the Reference Library, including a newly designed Electronic Reference Center; and a thorough (and architecturally much improved) redesign of the Core Library, combining it with the reserve department. In November 2000, in a reconfiguration of space that involved both public and staff areas, the library’s Collection Management Office moved into modern new offices that it shared with Digital Media Services, a unit of the library’s Media Center, and Academic Technologies, which reports to the university’s Vice President for Information Technology. This move, bringing together “bibliographic resources and scholarly technologies,” was intended to concentrate and maximize information technology support that the library offers to faculty and advanced students, and at the same time discover what synergies could flow from closer collaboration between the library and university computing (21).
Despite all of the successes in reconfiguring service and staff space, it is entirely in keeping with the 150-year tradition of Northwestern University Library that the space problem would reassert itself with a vengeance a little more than a generation after completion of the new Main Library in 1970. The first objective of the 1994–95 library annual plan was therefore to develop and gain acceptance for a space plan for the Main and Deering libraries. In January 1995, the Boston architectural firm of Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson and Abbott was chosen to develop plans to reconfigure existing library space—and plan new space—to accommodate collection growth for the future. The plans that were presented by the architects at a campus-wide presentation on November 7, 1995, met, however, with vociferous resistance from the humanities faculty, fearing displacement of their treasured collections, and a lukewarm response from the university administration (22) As a result, it would take eight additional years before a solution was in place to address the space problems of the library: A new underground storage facility near Kresge Hall on the Evanston campus to accommodate up to 500,000 volumes by 2003. It is hoped that in light of the rapid increase of electronic publication, this will be the last physical expansion the library will ever need.
During the first ten years of the Bishop administration, the deficiencies in the collections budget were gradually addressed—in no small measure through spectacular fundraising successes (see “Major Benefactors,” below). In 1992, the library’s total materials budget was $5,020,443 (37th in ARL ranking); by 2001, this amount had risen to $9,492,530 (30th).
Certainly one of the largest undertakings of the Bishop years was the adoption and implementation of a new library information system to replace NOTIS. This change had become necessary since, by 1995, the university had mandated a departure from mainframe-based computer systems in order to embrace a more flexible client-server architecture for its systems campus-wide. It also had become clear within the library that a new system was necessary to more fully exploit developments in relational database design and to take advantage of data delivery in a communications environment that was increasingly networked—and gradually poised to exploit the potential of the World Wide Web. Bishop appointed a NOTIS Replacement Task Force in early 1996, chaired by music librarian Don L. Roberts. This task force returned a unanimous recommendation on behalf of the Voyager system, offered by Endeavor Information Systems, Inc.—ironically a product that was largely developed by engineers who had worked on NOTIS at Northwestern during the 1980s. The university allocated approximately $1 million for the purchase and installation of the Voyager system, and a contract with Endeavor was signed in summer 1997. Major steps in the implementation process, presided over by a system-wide implementation team chaired by assistant university librarian for technical services Roxanne Sellberg, were hardware procurement, installation of the software, complex data migration planning, programming, and testing, system configuration, and staff training. All modules of the system went live on August 10, 1998. A gala inauguration of the system, with a ribbon cutting by university president Henry S. Bienen and musical accompaniment by the brass faculty of the School of Music, took place on September 28, 1998.
The earliest benefactors of Northwestern’s library were, not surprisingly, the university’s own founders and trustees. In addition to Orrington Lunt and Luther L. Greenleaf in the 1800s, these included in the 1920s university trustee Charles Deering of Deering Harvester Company and his heirs who donated more than $1 million to build the Charles Deering Library.
The Deering family continued their philanthropy in subsequent generations, largely as a result of the quiet but persistent intellectual interests of Charles Deering’s grandson Charles Deering McCormick. In 1970, he and his brothers contributed the funds for the construction of the south tower—Deering Tower—to meet Northwestern’s need for a new, larger research library. Grover Hermann of the Martin-Marietta Corporation gave $2.5 million for the east tower and Frank C. Engelhart gave $4.1 million for the north tower. In the 1980s, Charles Deering McCormick pledged the leadership gift for the project to preserve the original Deering Library, by then recognized as a campus landmark. He and his wife, Nancy, also gave over $3.75 million to name the position of University Librarian and to create an endowment named in memory of their son, Hilleary H. McCormick, to support the humanities collections. Following her husband’s death in 1994, Nancy McCormick made two gifts (1995 and 1997) totaling $1.3 million to endow and name the Charles Deering McCormick Library of Special Collections in memory of her husband. She followed up with a $5 million gift of endowment in 2001.
Several other significant library donors emerged in the 1980s and 1990s. In the late 80s, Margaret Clover Symonds endowed the new conservation laboratory, an endowment that today continues to fund the conservation of materials in the collections. Marjorie I. Mitchell, a member of the library’s Board of Governors, made major gifts to create the Marjorie I. Mitchell Media Center in 1990 and transform it in 1995 into the Mitchell Multimedia Center. Two others were George and Mary LeCron Foster, both noted anthropologists who had studied under Melville J. Herskovits as undergraduates at Northwestern. With gifts totaling $1.5 million, they created endowments for collections that named the curator’s position at the Herskovits Library of African Studies and the Meso-America Collection in anthropology in 1997. In 2002, Gerald and Marjorie Fitzgerald created a $1 million endowment for the history collection.
During the 1960s and early 1970s, fundraising efforts for the library were planned and implemented centrally through the University’s main development office, including the $12 million research library built in 1970 and the Seeley G. Mudd Library that opened in 1977. This changed by 1975, when the library hired an assistant university librarian for development, succeeded in the 1980s by a full-time director of development.
Beginning in May 1998 and coordinated by development director Harrie M. Hughes, the library participated in Northwestern University’s first comprehensive campaign, Campaign Northwestern. Against an initial goal of $15 million and a revised goal of $22.5 million, the library raised $30 million before the campaign’s end in 2003, helped by a lead gift of $10 million from the Miami Corporation, the investment company of the Deering family. The library’s highest campaign priority was endowment, which grew in little over six years from $27 million in 1996 to over $70 million, of which $45 million was dedicated to collections. Moreover, the library’s annual fund—an initiative of the library’s very active Board of Governors—grew from $35,000 to over $200,000 a year, resulting in the library’s ability, over a six-year period, to direct an additional $1.25 million beyond the collections budget and endowment income towards major acquisitions.
Northwestern University Library is administered by the University Librarian, whose position was endowed through a major donation from Charles Deering and Nancy McCormick in 1985. The university librarian is responsible to the university provost for the management of the library. Additionally, the provost appoints the University Library Committee to provide general oversight for the library and advise the university librarian. This committee includes both faculty and student representatives and is convened by the university librarian.
Administration of the library is in the hands of the university librarian and his cabinet of four Assistant University Librarians (AULs). Each AUL is the head of a division: Information Technology; Technical Services, Public Services, and Collection Management. Department heads within each division report to their respective AULs.
The university librarian and the AULs comprise the library’s Administrative Committee. The Administrative Committee's mission is to provide advice for the university librarian and for one another; to make decisions in the areas of personnel and budgeting; and to provide leadership for the Library. The Administrative Committee together with all of the Library Department Heads comprise the Management Council. Management Council, an innovation of university librarian David Bishop in 1992, provides a regular forum for the discussion and resolution of issues relating to library-wide policies. It meets twice monthly for 90-minute sessions.
The two most notable staff organizations at Northwestern University Library are the Assembly of Librarians, created around 1970 by university librarian Thomas Buckman, which by constitution deals with matters affecting librarians’ welfare and interests, such as promotion policies, professional development, and travel policy; and NULSA, the Northwestern University Library Staff Association, founded in 1939 under Effie A. Keith to provide for the social and general informational needs of the library staff.
In 1965, responding to the increasingly aggravated space needs of the sciences at Northwestern, Professor Robert Burwell (Chemistry) chaired a committee to study the library needs of the science and technology communities. The Burwell committee filed its report that same year. Following up on this work, Jeremy R. Wilson, then of the University’s Planning Department, called for the creation a Science Library Committee to develop a program of requirements for a new facility.
The Science Library Committee was appointed in early 1968 and chaired by Meyer Dwass (Mathematics). In addition to faculty from various science and engineering disciplines, its membership included John P. McGowan, then associate university librarian, and university librarian Jens Nyholm. At a preliminary meeting on February 6, 1968, Jeremy Wilson and Professor Moody Prior (English), former dean of the Graduate School and a member of the committee that directed the building of the new Main Library, gave background information, advising that the committee “attempt to be as optimistic as possible about the availability of funds.”
In this period, and of great relevance as a new facility was being planned, Northwestern’s Science Libraries (Biology, Mathematics, Astronomy, and Geology) were made a single administrative unit. This would facilitate merging collections into a single building. Over the long period of planning for the Science and Engineering Library, several different scenarios for mergers were discussed. Initially the Physics, Mathematics, and Biology departments wanted to maintain satellite libraries; in the end, only Mathematics was retained as a separate library. Geological Sciences was willing to have its library merged into the new library on the assumption that the department would move to North Campus; since no new building in this part of campus was in the offing for them, their collection was maintained in Locy Hall.
The architectural firm of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and especially architect Walter Netsch had already been actively involved in Northwestern’s campus planning and had designed many of the new buildings on the landfill campus. On March 9, 1973, the Science and Engineering Library Committee met for the first time with Walter Netsch. Also present were Jeremy Wilson and the University Architect, Gabor Zsolnay. The architects prepared a preliminary outline of specifications for the facility, which they presented on May 14.
Some aspects of the Seeley G. Mudd Library were strongly influenced by past experience with the Technological Institute Library. Since the faculty urgently desired to avoid future overcrowding of the sort they faced in Tech, a microfilm center was made a prominent feature of the new library; it was hoped that storing a large part of the journal collection on microfilm would extend the capacity of the new building. As experience was later to show, the use of microfilm was not cost-effective since it would require purchasing journals both in print and in microfilm out of current acquisitions funds. Moreover, though it could not have been foreseen at the time, a then-unimagined technology, the World Wide Web, rather than microfilm, would be the future of access to research journals. The space originally used for the microfilm center was later to prove most suitable for workstations that would access electronic journals on the web.
The major turning point for the new library was reached on April 29, 1975, when it was announced that the Seeley G. Mudd Fund would donate $1.4 million toward the library’s construction cost. Construction on the new library began in March 1976; the cornerstone was laid in November 1976. The completed Seeley G. Mudd Library for Science and Engineering, a three-story structure with almost 44,000 net square feet of floor space, opened its doors to the public on July 25, 1977; the official dedication ceremony was held on October 14, 1977.
The Seeley Mudd Library has proven to be a flexible structure that has accommodated change. The space originally allocated for microfilms is well adopted to its current role as the site for computer workstations with Internet access, a new feature that may have been dimly foreshadowed in Joseph Wyatt’s speech at the library’s dedication. The Mudd Library has been fortunate in having support for its expansion into this exciting new area through the establishment of the Astrahan Electronic Information Center. Morton M. Astrahan was a Northwestern alumnus (B.S.E.E. 1945, Ph.D. 1949) who spent his entire career at I.B.M. The Morton M. Astrahan Center was established in 1992 with the help of Morton Astrahan's widow, Mrs. Joann Astrahan.
A further example of the accommodation of the Mudd Library to change occurred in the summer of 2001, when movable, high-density shelving was installed on the first floor. This installation significantly increased capacity, and as research moves increasingly online, it may well turn out to be the final expansion needed for the physical capacity (as opposed to “virtual capacity”) of Northwestern’s engineering and science libraries.
In 1981, the United Library was formed through the merger of the libraries of Garrett-Evangelical Theological Seminary and Seabury-Western Theological Seminary. Garrett-Evangelical began with the 1974 combining of Garrett Theological Seminary and Evangelical Theological Seminary. Seabury-Western began with the 1933 union of Seabury Divinity School and Western Theological Seminary, meaning that the origins of the library collection can actually be traced back to the founding in the 1850s of Garrett in Evanston and Seabury in Faribault, Minnesota. Each of these institutions acquired collections from many sources, including manuscripts and books purchased by benefactors and portions of the holdings of other seminaries and colleges that closed, creating a theological collection that is both broad and deep. Special collections include the Hibbard Egyptian Collection, the Keen Collection of English Bible Translations, and the Methodist Collection. These and other holdings make the United Library's collection of over 300,000 volumes and 1,800 periodicals especially rich in biblical studies, patristics, Christian art, ancient Near Eastern studies, archaeology, church history, American denominationalism, pietism, Christian education, African-American theological studies, women's studies, Anglicana and Methodistica. Although most of the library’s collections are integrated bibliographically into Northwestern’s online catalog, NUcat, a thorough search requires use of the card catalog. Neither the United Library nor the seminaries it serves are administratively part of Northwestern University, but through the partnership of their libraries, both communities are well served.
The Joseph Schaffner Library, located on Northwestern University’s Chicago campus, is the only Chicago campus library that is administratively part of the university library system. Schaffner Library provides library and information services for the School of Continuing Studies, Kellogg Graduate School of Management, the Medill School of Journalism, and the Institute for Learning in Retirement. The Library’s services and programs, which are designed for adult part-time students, aim to make library research as efficient and convenient as possible.
The Library traces its history back to the original Chicago campus in the Northwestern House on Lake Street, the home of the first School of Commerce. The School of Commerce, established in 1908, had a small collection of books for department use but as a library was not organized until 1917. The School of Commerce Library, serving both the Schools of Commerce and Journalism, had moderate growth reaching a total of 3,000 volumes in 1926 when the School of Commerce moved, with the Law and Dental Schools, from Lake Street to the present Chicago campus where new library quarters were provided through the generosity of the family of Joseph Schaffner. Schaffner, a founding member of Hart, Schaffner, and Marx and a trustee of Northwestern University from 1910 until his death in 1918, was a man who loved books and firmly believed in the principle of higher education. It was his confidence in the value of scientific study for business training that prompted him to join in the founding of the School of Commerce at Northwestern University and had shown interest in the library. In recognition of the Schaffner family’s generosity in equipping the library and providing an endowment for books, the library was named the Joseph Schaffner Library at the dedication in Wieboldt Hall in 1927. With the Schaffner endowment, the collection of business, economics, and journalism expanded rapidly. By 1932 the collection had grown to 15,000 volumes and by 1940 to 43,000 volumes.
In 1942, the Schaffner Library absorbed the 11,000-volume collection of the University College Library bringing its total number of volumes to 62,000. The University College collection, the nucleus of the present social sciences and humanities collection, was begun in 1935 when the evening schools of the College of Liberal Arts, the School of Education, and the Schools of Music and Speech were combined into one administrative unit, University College, on May 11, 1933. The university library in Evanston not only supplied book funds, but also did the processing, while the single staff member was salaried by University College. The evening schools, begun in 1928, did not have library facilities available before 1935. The assigned library space on the eighth floor of Wieboldt Hall was small and the collection, though never large, quickly filled the assigned space and eventually necessitated the 1942 merger.
On September 1, 1969, by a decision of the faculty and approval by the university trustees, the Graduate School of Business Administration was converted to a Graduate School of Management, the undergraduate business program was phased out, and the school, with the exception of the evening program, was moved to the Evanston campus. The Library’s administration was transferred first to the university library on the Evanston campus, under the direct supervision of the university librarian, then shortly after was supervised by the assistant university librarian for branch libraries. For a short period of time in 1972, the newly appointed management librarian supervised the Library. In November 1972, Schaffner Library was designated a separate branch and direct responsibility was transferred back to the assistant university librarian. The head librarian currently reports to the assistant university librarian for public services. Currently, the library has a staff of five employees, which includes three librarians, two technical services (automation) consultants and a part-time circulation supervisor. The library also employs student assistants and library interns.
Today, Schaffner Library has a total of 60,000 volumes and 100 current serial subscriptions, offers access to the over 200 databases available to the Northwestern community, maintains working collections in the social sciences and humanities, business, and economics, a collection of general journals, as well as a current print reference collection and reserve materials.
The origins of Northwestern’s medical school date back to 1859 with the establishment of the medical department of Lind University (later to become Lake Forest College). Within the new Lind Building in downtown Chicago was “a faculty room also containing a ‘library’” (24). Between this beginning date and the establishment of Northwestern’s Chicago Campus as a home for the university’s professional schools of medicine, dentistry, law, and commerce in 1925, there existed a series of medical libraries at each stage of the school’s development. Given the times and the state of medical education, the libraries were not great. The medical library was dissolved around 1870 for lack of use, and volumes were donated to a unified library established by the Chicago Medical Society for use by any student, faculty or physician living within the city. The medical School’s Alumni Association revived the school’s library in the early 1880s and supported its growth through the sale of textbooks to students. Growth of the collection, a standard for measuring a library’s greatness well into the end of the 20th century, was poor to modest. Real growth happened in the 1920s as a result of firm leadership by a champion of the medical library, Dean Irving S. Cutter.
Northwestern’s dental school dates from 1891, the result of affiliation with and absorption by the university of some of Chicago’s successful proprietary schools for dental education. The first reference to Northwestern’s dental library is its purchase by Dr. Theodore Menges, secretary of the school, from Dr. Jonathan Taft, dean of the dental school at the University of Michigan. This large collection of 2,000 volumes continued to grow until the time of the school’s move to the Chicago Campus.
In the early 20th century, both medical and dental libraries experienced rapid growth, with the medical library becoming the country’s third largest medical library in the 1930s and the dental library claiming to be the largest dental library in the world. While the dental space managed to contain this substantial growth in the same space until its merger with the medical library in 1996, the medical library had to expand in 1964 and again in 1994. Both expansions happened after the substantial growth of medical school buildings. In 1964, the medical library expanded as a result of the school’s new G. D. Searle research building from its one-room configuration into an adjoining new reference room on the first level of Searle, leaving the original library space to serve as a new reading room. In addition, the library expanded into a new stack tower of basement, first, and mezzanine floors that were formed by the enclosure of the entire medical school buildings of the time: the original Ward Building (1925), the Morton Research Building (1955), and the new Searle Building. The 1964 addition allowed the medical library to continue to expand its print collections.
Because of the continuous growth in the collections and the need to update the library’s network infrastructure for service in the 21st century, the medical school was prepared once again to expand its medical library. Thanks to a generous donation from neighborhood residents and Chicago philanthropists, Jack and Dollie Galter, the new Galter Health Sciences Library was ready to take the lead in providing innovative technologies to meet information access needs. The medical school and dental school libraries agreed to merge in order to provide excellent information service to both schools. After a significant amount of planning, the renovation and expansion project took place during the 1994–1996 academic years. Holabird & Root Architects was selected to design the new Galter Library (25, 26).
The library’s Barnes Learning Resources Center (LRC), started in 1978, was integrated into the newly renovated library. The LRC houses the library’s non-print collection of slides, models, videos, computer-assisted instructional software, and general end-user software (such as word processing, database management, spreadsheets). There are fifty carrels each containing a computer and some other hardware for viewing non-print collections. Each carrel is linked to the university backbone network. The most popular location in the library, the LRC assists users in accessing electronic course reserve materials, supports independent and small group learning via the instructional software, and meets users need for access to the Internet. The LRC is also location for four group study rooms each seating 8 to 10 users. These rooms, plus six more on the library’s new second floor space, contain two network ports each, blackboards, light boxes for viewing X-rays, and media screens.
Another feature of the new library is “Dollie’s Corner,” housing the library’s leisure reading collection where students have a place to go to relax from their serious studies and read a newspaper, a magazine, or a work of fiction.
Other library features are: over 200 network ports for users and staff scattered throughout the library; an array of conduit for expanding the network in the future; special displays for collection exhibits; a new special collections department to support research and preservation of rare materials, instruments, and other artifacts; compact shelving in the lower level stacks to house historic materials; and plenty of staff space for work with users or to expand the features of the electronic library.
Putting emphasis on electronic access, the Galter staff are committed to providing the best service possible to assure users the library will be there, wherever they want it to be. The Galter librarians see their professional role in a new light based on the resources made available by the renovation project and the continued support of medical school administration. Starting with the base value inherent in the traditional librarian role to identify, acquire, collect, organize and disseminate scholarly resources relevant to the Medical School’s three missions of research, education and patient care, Galter librarians seek to build the tools that users need to manage health sciences information effectively and efficiently. Two recent projects demonstrate this role. One is HealthWeb, a collaborative effort of the staff from the academic medical center libraries of the Committee on Institutional Cooperation (or CIC, the Big Ten schools plus the University of Chicago) and the Greater Midwest Region of the National Network of Libraries of Medicine. Currently, the Galter Library supports HealthWeb by housing its server and providing the webmaster. Subject editors at Northwestern provide leadership for the Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation/Physical Therapy, Nutrition, Pediatrics, Endocrinology-Diabetes, and Radiology pages. The other project demonstrating the librarian’s role in information management is the development of the Health SmartLibrary (HSL). With support from the National Library of Medicine via an information systems grant, the HSL seeks to build tools to assist the busy clinician to access health information in a more efficient and effective way. The HSL is intended to save users’ time by pushing information to them electronically before they need it.
Overall, the Galter Health Sciences Library is poised to meet the challenges offered by a growing medical school environment. Using information technologies as a basic tool, Galter staff will be providing the best information access and service it can to meet the needs of the Feinberg School of Medicine and the McGaw Medical Center of Northwestern University.
Although the history of the Northwestern University School of Law begins in 1859 with the founding of the Law Department of the original Chicago University, the Law School did not become formally affiliated with Northwestern until 1891. It is from this period that one finds the first description of a law library being associated with the law school. In their early years the law school (and library) moved to various venues in Chicago, finally settling into its current location in downtown Chicago in 1926 with the construction of Levy Mayer Hall and the Elbert H. Gary Library. In 1960, the Law School dedicated the Owen L. Coon Library, an addition that doubled the library’s space and relieved severe space constraints facing the Gary Library (27). The Arthur Rubloff Building was dedicated in 1984. Rubloff offers a significant amount of additional library space, including a suite of climate-controlled rooms for the library’s special collections. In 1999, in recognition of a major gift from the Pritzker Family Foundation, the library was named the Pritzker Legal Research Center.
Overlooking Lake Michigan on Chicago’s Gold Coast, Northwestern’s law library boasts outstanding architectural space that is well designed for library users and whose environment is enhanced by significant pieces of contemporary art donated by David Ruttenberg, a law school alumnus.
The library has 90,000 square feet in three interconnected buildings and approximately 91,000 linear feet of open stack shelving. In addition to attractive reading space, the library has twelve group study rooms and 24 faculty carrels, and several visiting attorney offices and provides seating for approximately 95% of the student body. It also has three electronic reference areas as well as three multipurpose student computer labs. As the number of students with notebook computers has increased, the library networked 75 carrels and installed wireless networks, giving students access to the law school network and a wide variety of networked information resources.
With a collection of 680,000 volumes, the library’s collection is among the largest academic law libraries. The collection is cataloged and access is available through the online catalog, which also provides links to electronic resources the library has licensed. The largest portion of the collection is classified using the Library of Congress classification system. Portions of the historically rich foreign, international, comparative, religious and Roman law materials will be reclassified in the next several years.
The library’s collection continues to rank among the best academic law libraries both in terms of breadth and depth. In addition to providing a comprehensive research collection of historic and contemporary United States legal materials, the library’s collection also boasts a significant rare book collection of more than 2,500 volumes including first editions of legal classics, a number of manuscripts and incunabula, and the Williams collection of Historical Legal Documents. In many ways the uniqueness of the library’s holdings is the result of the significant support it received from then dean, John Henry Wigmore, and Elbert H. Gary, who were responsible for acquiring several unique collections such as the Gary Collection of Continental Law (1903) and the Gary Collections of International Law and the Collection of Ancient, Oriental and Primitive Law (1906-07). Current collection strengths include materials on the legal profession and professional responsibility and public and private international law. Under the terms of an agreement between the library and the American Bar Association, the library receives all publications of the ABA.
In the fall of 1996 the Law School and Library received selected papers of Arthur J. Goldberg (B.A. '29, LL.B. '30), the bulk of which cover the three-year period (1962-1965) Goldberg served on the United States Supreme Court and include drafts of judicial opinions as well as comments, notes, and correspondence by him and the other justices. Selected papers from the archive have been digitized and are accessible through the library’s web page.
Of all of the events that have affected the library over the last twenty-five years, two stand out. The first was the construction of the 1984 addition, which tripled the physical size of the library and its shelving capacity while also significantly improving reader space and service areas. The second has been the redefinition of almost every aspect of library services, collections, staffing, operations, and, perhaps most important, patron expectations because of developments in information technology and the rise of electronic information resources. Of the two, the latter most certainly will have the greater impact over the long run as the library continues the transition from completely physical collections to a mix of print and electronic information resources and the services to make those resources easily accessible to library patrons.
The legal profession and law libraries were among the earliest users of networked electronic information with commercial full-text online services first becoming widely available in the mid 1970s. From this relatively early date law libraries have begun the process of providing information resources and services in an environment that is both electronic and physical. In recent years, with the concept of library collections being further redefined, the law library has moved aggressively to promote an environment that combines the traditional model of acquiring and organizing local collections while increasingly relying upon networked and distributed information. No longer does it attempt to meet patrons’ information needs with local information resources; its new role is to facilitate easy patron access to information regardless of format or location.
Over the past decade the library has significantly increased the size of its staff and reorganized several times to increase the percentage of staff who directly provide services its web page, providing patron assistance through research guides and interactive library maps that allow patrons both to physically locate selected materials in the library and then to learn how they are used for research.
In the past several years the Research and Instructional Services librarians have expanded their range of responsibilities by helping develop a faculty/library liaison program that pairs each law faculty member with a librarian who can function as a single point of contact between faculty and the library (a service designed to minimize the increasing complexity of libraries). Additionally, over the past several years the librarians have offered a number of law school courses in Advanced Legal Research and Advanced Electronic Legal Research as well as non-credit legal research refresher courses for students preparing for their first law firm position and for the growing number of foreign trained attorneys to come to the law school to enroll in the one-year LL.M. (Master of Laws) program.
Over the first 150 years of their existence, Northwestern’s libraries have benefited from strong, innovative, and frequently entrepreneurial leadership; from a talented professional staff that thrives on the challenges of change and appreciates the benefits of a vibrant metropolis at its doorstep; and from a supportive base of enlightened citizens in Chicago and beyond who recognize the value of maintaining and continuing to develop a great university library. The issues that Northwestern University Library faces in the future—the push-pull relationship between library and academic community as research and resources evolve from paper to electronic; the unresolved dialectics of the library’s unchanged mission to provide both access and storage; the opportunities—but also the risks—that the library faces in the digital world to become not only a repository but a publisher of information as well (28)—these challenges are different perhaps in nature, but not in scale or complexity, from those faced and overcome by generations of Northwestern librarians, starting with the audacious decision in 1850 to build a great university—with a library worthy of it—in the marshy forests of what was then the American Northwest.
The author wishes to acknowledge the contributions of James S. Aagaard, Harrie M. Hughes, Robert C. Michaelson, Patrick Quinn, Joan A. Reyes, James Shedlock, Christopher Simoni, and the staff of Northwestern University Archives in preparing this article. A special debt is owed to Rolf H. Erickson (1940–1992), author of the article on Northwestern’s libraries in the first edition of this encyclopedia, whose research into the history of Northwestern’s libraries is today of undiminished importance. These individuals deserve only thanks: all errors of fact and of characterization remain the responsibility of the author.