There’s been a library at Lawrence since its founding lo, these many years ago. The first Lawrence catalog from 1850-51 says this:
“A commencement for a good Library and Cabinet has been made, and 250 volumes or more secured for the former. Additions will continue to be made and the friends of the institution are hereby requested to make donations to the Library and Cabinet that they may speedily take rank with those which grace and benefit similar institutions in the East.”
In 1854, Amos Lawrence’s uncle-in-law, Samuel Appleton died and left $10,000 in his will for the “the increase of the Library” at Lawrence. In Uncle Sam’s honor, the library was called the “Appleton Library of Lawrence University.”
Before 1906, the library was in Main Hall. According to the 1855 catalog, access to the library was limited to one visit and one book per week, but by 1859, the Faculty Library Committee voted that “no students except those of the Senior Class shall be allowed to go into the Library to consult books.”
The library catalog was handwritten and listed books as they were added to the collection. To check out a book,
“On a slip of paper write the title of the book desired, the letters and number, according to the Catalogue, together with the name of the person drawing, and hand it to the Librarian, or his assistant. It would be well to put down several, in the same way, so that if the 1st be not in, the 2nd, or if the second be not there, the third may be drawn, and so on.”
Zelia Anne Smith, class of 1882, was Lawrence’s first full-time librarian and she served in that role from 1883 to 1924. This painting of her (to the right), commissioned by alumni on her death, hangs in the University Librarian’s office.
In 1905, Lawrence received a donation from Andrew Carnegie for the construction of a new library building. That building, located on the site of the current library, was torn down in 1974 to make way for the Mudd.