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During the early years when Florida State University was the Florida Female College (1905-1909), former Dean of Arts and Sciences Dr. William G. Dodd, in his unpublished manuscript, "Florida State College for Women: Notes on the Formative Years," noted that the early library was located in one of the classrooms in the main building whose floor space was "completely taken up by two tables and a dozen or so chairs." In 1907, Florida Female College President Albert Murphree made a request to the Florida Board of Control and the Florida Legislature for a separate library building, but it was not until 1923 that the West wing of the new library was completed in Dodd Hall. In 1929, construction was finally completed on the entire building.

According to "Louise Richardson and the Florida State University Library," the book collection in the institution's early years grew slowly. While early records did not describe the size of the library, the Florida Board of Education set aside annually an amount to purchase additional books. In spring 1903, an appropriation of several thousand dollars made possible the purchase of 3,000 new books. College faculty assisted the Librarian, Mary W. Apthorp (librarian from 1903-1912), in selecting these books. Fields of knowledge included English literature, philology, linguistics, Greek, Latin, French, German, Spanish, Italian, economics, sociology, psychology, religion, chemistry, music, and oratory. The Library was particularly strong in Shakespeare and owned five notable editions of Shakespeare's works, one of which was the famous variorum edition. From 1903-1909, circulation of materials averaged 600 books per month, even though enrollment at this time average around 300 students. The periodical collection contained about 50 titles, including publications from England, Germany, France, and Spain.

By 1909, the collection had grown to 6,000 volumes covering every field of human knowledge. By 1911, it contained 8,000 volumes. But for the next few years, collection growth was slow with only a few hundred added each year. However, the number of periodicals increased to over 100 and representative newspapers published in Florida were added. When Louise Richardson became Librarian in 1922, according to the 1922-1923 FSCW Catalog, the library collection contained 16,000 bound volumes. These volumes included not only well-selected, up-to-date reference books, but also the best general material necessary for the proper development of the courses of instruction offered.

During World War II, the reference collection improved in breadth and depth. While the emphasis had traditionally been to acquire basic bibliographies, other subject areas took on increasing importance. The Library's biennial report for 1944-1946 states that "As America moves to take a leading part in international cooperation, our library must expand its materials in international relations, foreign languages, and cultural and economic resources of other countries." This growth was reflected in the acquisition of government documents and handbooks, bibliographical and biographical as well as statistical and descriptive. Special emphasis was placed on filling Latin American needs. Other materials, including journals, reports, and miscellaneous documents were acquired from various divisions of the United Nations.

Prior to 1947, more attention was paid to the development of an undergraduate library. In 1947, when Florida State College for Women became Florida State University, emphasis shifted to the development of materials for graduate and professional study and research. Subdivisions for art services, federal documents, and maps were created, and specialists in these fields were hired. In addition, the reference book collection grew steadily in quantity and quality. Reference works included national, subject, and general bibliographies; notable foreign dictionaries; general and biographical encyclopedias; serial sets in special fields; and documentary source material, particularly in history, English literature, political science, and publications of learned groups. Resources complementing the book collection included microfilms and microcards with machines for their use, photographs, photocopies, and newspapers.

During the early 1950s, according to its biennial report for 1950-1952, the Library experienced crowded conditions with a nonfunctional, inadequate building and reference materials scattered throughout the building, "making integration of services extremely difficult." The report states that "the space problem was so acute that two things must occupy the space of one." In spite of these problems, however, the Library continued to successfully acquire, arrange, publicize, and provide service to its students and faculty. In addition, use of the collections increased. When Miss Richardson stepped down as head librarian in 1953 to become the Head of the Library's Special Collections Department (1953-1960), a new building was planned. Named for FSU's president, the Robert Manning Strozier Library was completed in 1956 and opened at the beginning of the summer session in June.

By the early 1960s, Director Orwin Rush noted that the increase in the student population since the Library opened had out-distanced the library's capacity to provide first-class service, and should be enlarged by 1965 to twice its present capacity. While operating funds devoted to the Library had increased appreciably in the last few years, he felt that they were still inadequate for the research, creative, and graduate programs of a major university. In January 1966, ground was broken on a seven-story addition to Strozier Library to provide room for shelving at least a million additional books and double the seating capacity. The use of compact shelving made it possible to store these volumes in addition to the nearly 700,000 volumes already housed in the Library.

From the guide to the Florida State University Libraries Accession Books, 1909-1969, 1923-1951, (Repository Unknown)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Apthorp, Mary W. person
associatedWith Dodd, William George, 1874-1963 person
associatedWith Florida State College for Women. Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Florida State University. Library. corporateBody
associatedWith Murphree, Albert Alexander, 1870-1927 person
associatedWith Richardson, Louise, 1889-1963 person
associatedWith Strozier, Robert Manning, 1906-1960 person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Subject
Florida State College for Women--History
Occupation
Function

Corporate Body

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