The University Library: Origins, Architecture, and Art
The first president of the University, Henry Tappan, speaks these words to the Board of Regents in support of the Library:
"A Library supplies the daily food of the mind. It is impossible to carry on the educational discipline of such an Institution as ours without an ample supply of books in every branch of Science and Literature. Books, here, are not an amusement or a luxury; they are a prime necessity; they are the fixed capital of a University." (Loup & Yocum, 2001)
President Tappan asks Ann Arbor citizens for contributions to the Library's book-purchasing budget. $1,515 is raised and used to purchase 1,200 volumes (Shaw, 1941).
The North Wing of the University Building is remodeled and the University’s Library and Museum are installed. Books can no longer circulate outside the Library, but daily service is provided and there is a reading room in the Library for research and study (Untitled 1, Hatcher hanging files).
The Library is moved to the Law Building where it remains for 20 years.
Librarian Andrew Ten Brook devotes much of his energies to developing a new, detailed catalog system for the Library. Ten Brook’s successor, Davis, continues the focus on cataloging and, by 1901, reclassifies over 100,000 with the Dewey Decimal Classification System (Loup & Yocum, 2001).
The collection grows from 17,000 to 941,500 volumes. Major collections during this time include: McMillan Shakespeare collection (1883), Christian Buhl's law collection (1885), the Ford Messer fund for European learned societies and academies (1893), and the Coyl Fund for books on art and architecture (1893) (Loup & Yocum, 2001).
The General Library Building is constructed. Due to rapid growth of the Library's collections, this new building is deemed too small within twelve years of its construction. Attempts are made to deal with the overcrowding by adding stacks in 1899, 1903, and 1910 and by creating separate subject libraries. (Loup & Yocum, 2001)
For over a decade the University of Michigan General Library is considered the strongest library in the country west of Cornell. On September 30, 1890 Librarian Raymond C. Davis reports that in all of the UM libraries there are 74,599 volumes, 14,907 unbound pamphlets and 571 maps, in the Law Library 10,218 volumes, in the Medical Library 4,146 volumes and 996 unbound pamphlets, and in the Library of the Dental College 500 volumes (Untitled 1, Hatcher hanging files).
President James Burrill Angell addresses the Regents on the overcrowding of the Library: "The embarrassment, to which I have called attention in previous reports, arising from the crowded condition of the Library, of course grows more serious every year." ("The General Library," 1965)