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Record Group 23 - University Libraries

When the college began in 1872, V.E. Shepherd was appointed as librarian (as well as treasurer, secretary of the faculty and Board of Visitors, and to teach foreign languages). The library started with 500 volumes, which were primarily gifts from congressmen, publishers, and government agencies. Students supervised the library from 1875 until Mary Lacy was appointed as the first full-time librarian in 1903. She was followed by her sister, Ethel Lacy, from 1910-13, and then Eleanor Jones, 1913-23. After two years of acting librarians, Ralph M. Brown was appointed in 1925 and served until 1946. He was succeeded as director by Seymour Robb (1947-61), Frank Shirk (1961-70), Gerald Rudolph (1970-74), Gordon Bechanan (1974-84), Paul Gherman (1985-92), Joanne Eustis (interim, 1992-94), and Eileen Hitchingham (1995-2011). Tyler Walters began his term as Dean of the University Libraries in 2011.

The first branch library was established in 1907 in Agriculture Hall (now Price). In 1955, a new building was opened and named for Carol M. Newman, a professor of English at Virginia Tech for 38 years. At that time, two branch libraries (Agriculture and Engineering) and about twenty departmental collections closed and were integrated into the main collection. During Rudolph's tenure, two new branches were created: Geology (1972) and one in Reston, Virginia, for the Northern Virginia Graduate Program.

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The University Archives contains a large volume of the records of the University Libraries. This collection continues to grow on almost a daily basis. Records of each department within the library, committees, taskforces, the faculty association, and the staff association are included in this collection. The archive also holds newspaper clippings, publications, annual reports, and photographs concerning the library. Future editions of this guide will include more detailed descriptions of the library's archival records. Since the records of past library directors are central to this collection, their descriptions are given below.

Finding aid for the Virginia Tech University Libraries Records, including the RG numbers below on the Virginia Heritage database.

Brown, Ralph M. (Directory, 1925-47)

(RG 23/1/1)
Ralph Minthorne Brown was appointed as librarian in 1925. During his tenure, the library collection doubled in size. Brown retired in 1946.

Records, 1925-47

0.4 cu. ft.
This collection includes budget material (1943-52), statistics (1928-45), proposed library plans (1935-40), Library Committee material (1925-26), and correspondence (1925-47). Brown's personal papers can be found in manuscript collection Ms70-002. See Guide to Manuscript Collections in the University Libraries for a description of these papers.

Robb, Seymour (Director, 1947-61)

(RG 23/1/2)
Seymour Robb succeeded Brown in 1947. In an effort to correct some of the deficiencies of the library, Robb called for a library survey. Funds were received in 1949 for a survey to be conducted by Maurice Tauber of Columbia University Library School and William Jesse of the University of Tennessee Library. Their conclusions led to immediate improvement in funding for the library. Beginning in 1951, funds were sought from various sources for the construction of a new library building. Carol M. Newman Library was completed in 1955. After fourteen years of service, Robb died in office in 1961.

Records, 1947-61

0.8 cu. ft.
This collection includes correspondence (1947-61), the Library Survey (1949), and records relating to the construction of Newman Library.

Shirk, Frank (Director, 1961-70)

(RG 23/1/3)
Frank Shirk assumed the duties of head of the library upon Seymour Robb's death in 1961. Shirk had been with the library since 1948 and had been Associate Library Director since 1955. Accomplishments of his tenure included an increased book budget, beginnings of automation, and adoption of the Library of Congress classification system to replace the Dewey Decimal system. Shirk stepped down in 1970.

Records, 1955-70

3.0 cu. ft.
This collection contains budget material (1961-70), gifts and memorial funds (1960-71), Library Committee minutes (1962-70), Library Committee self-study reports and memoranda (1966-68), memoranda to faculty (1964-68), policy statements (1965-69), VPI Interschool Library Committee report (1961), and correspondence dealing with the VPI Archives (1949-70). Also included are the correspondences of the Associate Library Director (Frank Shirk, 1955-61, and Robert Stephenson, 1964-70.)

Rudolph, Gerald A. (Director, 1970-74)

(RG 23/1/4)
Gerald Rudolph became Library Director in 1970. Accomplishments of his administration included: creation of a subject-divisional organization for the library with separate reference desks for science, social sciences, and humanities; formation of two branch libraries (Geology and Northern Virginia); and approval of an addition to Newman Library.

Records, 1970-74

2.0 cu. ft.
This collection includes annual reports (1970-72), budget material (1970-72), correspondence (1970-74), Daily Bulletin Notices (1970-71), various committee reports (1970), memoranda concerning automated library system (1971), questionnaires on library (1969-70), student surveys and reports on library system (1971), organizational charts and policy revisions (1970), and correspondence and reports of Dr. Stuart Forth (Library Consultant, 1970). Also included are: State Council of Higher Education Library Advisory Committee material (1968-70); Report of the Subcommittee for Renovation and Addition to the Library (13 October 1970); "A Research Proposal Submitted to Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University" by G.A. Rudolph and M.H. Agee; "The Redesign of Technical Services for Carol M. Newman Library" by G.W. Creasy, W.L. Root, and A.G. Yates (submitted 6 March 1972).

Bechanan, H. Gordon (Director, 1974-84)

(RG 23/1/5)
H. Gordon Bechanan became Library Director in 1974, after serving as an Assistant Director since 1972. Accomplishments during his tenure included: expansion of the microforms and rare books and manuscripts collections; the library's involvement in several cooperative projects with other research libraries; the library's membership in the Association of Research Libraries and SOLINET; construction of an addition to Newman; and development of an on-line catalog (VTLS). Bechanan retired in 1984.

Records, 1974-84

16.0 cu. ft.
This collection includes annual reports (1974-84), budget material (1970-85), building plans for addition to Newman (1970-71), Chemistry Branch Library proposal, Council on Library Resources material (1972-84), items concerning space (1973-80), VPI audits (1978-84), branch libraries policies (1971-82), Manuscript Committee materials, and VTLS materials. Also included are materials dealing with the American Library Association (1951-83), Association of Research Libraries (1976-84), Association of Southeastern Research Libraries (1976-83), Southern College and University Libraries statistics, SCHEV, and Virginia Libraries Association (1971-79).

Gherman, Paul M. (Director/University Librarian, 1985-92)

(RG 23/1/6)
Paul M. Gherman became Library Director in 1985. In 1991 the title of the position was changed to University Librarian. Gherman stepped down from the position in 1992.

Records, 1985-91

4.0 cu. ft.
This collection includes correspondence (1985-91), Library Administrative Council minutes (1989-90), minutes and literature about the International Archive of Women in Architecture (1989-90), memos and reports of the Association for Research Libraries (1985-89), the University Libraries Stategic Plan (1985), and memos from various departments within the Libraries.

Hitchingham, Eileen (Dean, 1995-2011)

(RG 23/1/6)
Eileen Hitchingham served as Dean of the University Libraries from 1995 until her retirement on February 1, 2011.

Records, 1985-91

2.6 cu. ft.

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