The sesquicentennial of a university gives reason to reflect upon the origins and growth of one of the core stakeholders of the academic learning process – the University Library. This is the short history of a library as a growing learning space. It is about a library as an institution that in the course of its service to the university had to overcome many constraints in order to put its patron, the ‘reader,’ first. As University Librarian emeritus David Stam reminds us in his retrospective “Peaks of Joy, Valleys of Despair,” citing his predecessor Wharton Miller:
“It must never be lost sight of that the Library exists to serve its public now and for all time. It couldn’t operate in a vacuum. In all smoothing out processes let that be held always in view. Time is never too short to help a student. No student must be turned away with an evasive answer. Library machinery must never interfere with personal contact between the Library and its public. Let the reader emerge.”
About the Curator
Sebastian Modrow is Curator of Rare Books and Manuscripts in the Special Collections Research Center at the Syracuse University Libraries.
Header image: Photograph of Interior of the von Ranke Library, circa 1900. Syracuse University Photograph Collection, University Archives.