Compiling this brief history about the Elihu Burritt Library has been an enjoyable process. Much has changed in 150 years - from quill pens to computers, from a collection of a few thousand volumes to over half a million, from candle light to florescent (I am not sure that's an improvement), from no permanent staff to twenty-six full and part time librarians and eighteen support staff persons. The Elihu Burritt Library could never have come this far or achieved so much without the dedication, hard work, and commitment of librarians, staff members, and student workers, past and present. The debt owed them can never be repaid.

In writing this short history it became clear that over the past century and a half there have been certain constants. Space has been and probably will always be a problem. The General Assembly has been parsimonious in supporting public higher education since 1849. Very little is new - In 1931 the staff was offering credit courses about library resources; today they offer computerized credit courses in library resources. New library buildings, at least at Central, are always built on athletic fields. There are outside events, wars, depressions, oil crises, baby booms, General Assembly priorities, and campus priorities that will effect the way the library operates. New library buildings will result in major donations, and serial prices grow faster than dandelions.

As the university celebrates its sesquicentennial and the approaching millennium, the library faces new challenges and possibilities. Library operations are increasingly computerized, and technology continues to change the way librarians do their job and serve their patrons. More and more of the scarce funds are devoted to electronic information sources. The dilemma that must be faced is how to continue to purchase books and periodicals while supporting the ever-changing technology.


I would like to express my deep appreciation to my student worker, Angela Scavello, who created this website. Angela scanned the images, created the layout, and input the text. Several individuals were very helpful in the editing of this history. I am grateful to Ross Baiera, Robert Massmann, George Muirhead, and Jeanne Sohn for their comments and suggestions in the preparation of this history.

Frank Gagliardi
-March 1999

Back to Main Forward
Return to main history page Next