The Normal school opened its doors on May 15, 1850. Admitted were sixty-seven individuals: thirty males and thirty-seven females.
The First Annual Circular of the Trustees of the State Normal School of Connecticut, 1850 reported:
"A library of the best textbooks, in the various studies pursued in the schools, is commenced, and already numbers upwardof four thousand volumes. Pupils are supplied with textbooks"
"The school is already furnished with the bestworks on the theory and Practice of Education, which the normal pupils are expected to read, and on several of which they are examed."
|While no interior views of the new school have been located, floor plansdo exist. The building also provided rooms for three Model Schools for the children of New Britain. The original building with an additioncontained seven floors. In 1853 the library was located on the second floor, and the library of textbooks was located on the third floor.|
|F - Library. 34 by 13||A - Recitation study rooms for Normal pupils|
B - Library of Text-books
The description of the library and the library of textbooks remained thesame between 1850 and 1865 in both the Annual Reports of the Trustees... as well as The Annual Catalogs of the Officers and Students of the State Normal School... With the exception of 1855, when $1,000was appropriated for the library and apparatus, no records were located for the years 1850-1859. In 1860, $99.88 was expended for reference books.It is impossible to ascertain the exact amount for library purchases forthe next few years because expenditures for scientific apparatus, lectures, and the library were combined. The trustees expended $294.79 in 1861, $113.65 in 1862, $246.96 in 1863, $159.83 in 1864, and $99.97 in 1865.
There is no mention of a librarian during the early years. This may be accounted for by the fact that the library was only opened on "Wednesdayand Saturday between 8 1/2 and 9 o'clock, AM except during the weekpreceding the annual examination of the Library"!
|The first and only library catalogue was published in 1856. In addition, to being open only one hour per week, loan periods were based on the size of the book. "A duodecimo, or octavo, may be kept two weeks, a quarto, or folio, three weeks." Fines for overdue books were one, two, or three cents based on size of the books.|
The collection consisted of about two hundred and nineteen titles. These books appear to have been arranged by shelf number. For example the works of Addison were no. 66 and A.K. Johnston's General Gazetteer was no. 585.
In 1867 the legislature cut off appropriations for the Normal Schoolforcing it to shut down for two years. A legislator, Major General William H. Russell, who owned a private school led the move to cut off funding. Public demand resulted in the school's reopening in 1870. Funding for the school, never generous, resulted in the issuing of the following plea: "The friends of education are earnestly invited to contribute books for the library; philosophical and chemical apparatus; minerals and specimens of natural history for the cabinet." This plea appeared in the school Catalogue for 1874-75 as well as subsequent years.
Initially, students attending Normal school were not charged tuition. In addition the school provided textbooks. Students boarded with local families for $5.00 to $6.00 dollars per week according to the1874-1875 catalogue. This same catalogue noted that "for those who may wish to board at home, Scholar's Tickets on the Hartford, Providence, and Fishkill Railroad are offered at very low rates. The New Haven and Northampton Railroad offers equally favorable terms."
By the mid 1870s it became clear that the existing building did not meetthe needs of the Normal students or the growing number of New Britainpublic school students who were also housed in the same building.
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