Highlights and History of the UGA Libraries' Collections

The University of Georgia Libraries' collections today represent a rich and varied accumulation of purchases and gifts. Collections of distinction, that is, very strong collections that have the potential for attracting scholars from around the world, exist or are being developed in a number of subject areas. Areas of current intensive collecting activity include American and British history and literature, business administration, education, fine arts, French and Spanish language and literature, journalism, linguistics, political science, psychology, and sociology.

The Science Library's supports collections for research and instruction in the physical and life sciences. The collection presently contains over 750,000 volumes and over 3,000 print journal titles. .

The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library

The Hargrett Rare Book and Manuscript Library, a leading repository on Georgia history and culture, holds 200,000 volumes in its rare book and Georgiana collections, 6 million pages of historical manuscripts and photographs, along with maps, broadsides, and UGA archives and records. Of particular note is one of the largest collections of Confederate imprints, as well as material of a specialized nature, such as broadsides, historical maps, and sheet music. In addition, the holdings include programs, posters, drawings, photographs, engravings, and other ephemera relating to early American and British theater and the motion picture industry. Other areas of emphasis include performing arts and natural history. Holdings date from the 15th century to the present.

Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies

Established in 1974 through the efforts of the Richard B. Russell Foundation, Inc., the Georgia General Assembly, and the University System of Georgia Board of Regents, the original mission of the Richard B. Russell Library for Political Research and Studies was to collect and preserve materials that document the life and career of the late Richard B. Russell, United States Senator from Georgia from 1933 to 1971. The Russell Library has over 150 collections from politicians, political parties, public policy organizations, federal and state appointees, and political observers and activists from modern Georgia (1900-present). The collections provide significant documentation of the broad spectrum of political activities of modern Georgia through over 13,000 linear feet of correspondence, speeches, drafts of legislation, domestic and foreign policy papers, polling data, campaign materials, sound recordings, electronic records, photographs, film, artifacts, and oral history. The collections also document the global relationships and interests formed by Georgians through political action, foreign service, trade, and other activities. Some collections include family papers and business records.

The Walter J. Brown Media Archive & Peabody Awards Collection

The Walter J. Brown Media Archive & Peabody Awards Collection preserves over 200,000 titles in film, video, audiotape, transcription disks, and other recording formats dating from the 1920s to the present. The archives are housed in the Main Library on the north campus of the University of Georgia. The Peabody Awards Collection is the flagship of the archives, and contains nearly every entry for the first major broadcast award given in the United States. Entries begin in 1940 for radio and 1948 for television, with at east 1,000 new entries every year -- programs by local, national, cable, and international producers.

Digital Library of Georgia

The Digital Library of Georgia is a gateway to Georgia's history and culture found in digitized books, manuscripts, photographs, government documents, newspapers, maps, audio, video, and other resources. The Digital Library of Georgia connects users to a million digital objects in 110 collections from 60 institutions and 100 government agencies. Though this represents only a fraction of Georgia's cultural treasures, the Digital Library of Georgia continues to grow through its partnerships with libraries, archives, museums, government agencies, and allied organizations across the state. Based at the University of Georgia Libraries, the Digital Library of Georgia is an initiative of GALILEO, the state's virtual library.

Data Services

The Data Services office maintains a large and growing collection of machine-readable data files, and acts as an intermediary between these files and the users of the data. The current holdings of Data Services come from two major sources: The Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research (ICPSR) and the Bureau of the Census. The Libraries also purchase data files from a variety of sources.

Map and Government Information Library

The Map and Government Information Library is the designated U.S. Regional Depository Library for the State of Georgia and the official depository for Georgia government publications; it is also home to one of the largest academic map collections in the country. Taken together, the map and government documents collections consist of approximately 1.5 million tangible items and over 3 million microforms.

Other Special Collections

The Curriculum Materials Library, located in the College of Education in Aderhold Hall, collects juvenile and young adult literature and materials related to teacher classroom preparation.

The Music Library, located in the School of Music, operates as a branch collection of the Main Library, provides a central service point for music audio/video materials and ready access to reserve materials for music courses.


DESCRIPTION: Today, the collection of books, journals, microforms, recordings, and other materials owned by the University of Georgia Libraries totals over three million items. The following is a summary of the growth of the collection over nearly two hundred years.

The Senate Academicus undertook plans for the development of a library for the University in 1799. A committee of its members prepared a list of recommended books and scientific apparatus in a report made on November 28, 1800. This list focused on classical studies, philosophy, theology, history, political science, law, and science. Only a few books of poetry were included, and none on music or the arts. In fact, most of the histories, political science, theology, poetry, and other works were listed in a section of books bought “for the use of Students at intervals when not engaged in the Academical Studies…”

As the University began to function, Josiah Meigs, the first president of the new school, also prepared a list of books with special focus on the sciences. In 1801, Meigs reported to the trustees that books had been received, and others were on their way from London.

The University spent only one thousand dollars for both books and scientific equipment in the initial purchase. A few years followed with no moneys for further book acquisitions. By 806 the lack of funding was so critical that a state lottery was proposed to solve the problem. Although the governor approved the plan, it was never implemented.

In the next decade only very small amounts of money were spent on purchases for the library. Finally, in 1817, the Board of Trustees approved a plan to raise $4,000 in donations for improving the library. The plan was apparently successful because in June 1819 the University owed $800 to a bookseller in Philadelphia.

Throughout this early period it is not known who acted as the University's librarian. Probably, based on the later tradition, each member of the faculty took a turn at the post. Mathematics professor Alonzo Church is the first faculty member whose role as librarian is documented. The library was open only a very few hours each week. The librarian made sure that the collection was properly used during those few hours, kept track of books that were checked out, and occasionally prepared a catalog of the library.

For many years, book selection and purchase was done by the Board of Trustees' library committee (probably influenced by faculty recommendations). Later, Alonzo Church as the university's president took over much of this responsibility, especially after the fire in 1830 which destroyed the original New College Building (which housed the library). The disaster spurred the legislature to make a special grant of $3,000 to replace what had been lost. Apparently, Church began the task by visiting northern publishers to order the foundations of a new collection and continued to make all book selections for several years. After a number of protests over Church's tendency to buy too many theology books, a faculty committee began purchasing books in 1837, with selections based on recommendations from all of the faculty.

Before the Civil War most of the books acquired for the library were obtained from northern or European publishers. The University used booksellers as agents in larger cities where there were many publishers, such as New York, Boston, and London. Supplementing purchases the University received documents from the federal government and, in 1840's those of Great Britain. Development of the collection suffered from the perennial lack of funding and a lack of major donors, although, some gifts of books were made by retiring faculty members, townspeople, alumni, and other friends of the University.

The collection, although small for a university library of the time, was fairly well rounded with basic works in the sciences, literature, politics, and other fields. The 1850 catalog of the library's holdings listed items by their general classification such as “History”, “Biography”, or “Theology” or by format, with sections for “Encyclopedias, Lexicons, and etc.” and “Periodicals”.

By the middle of the century the library still had no money or inclination to support purely recreational reading. This void was filled by the two libraries maintained by the campus literary societies, the Phi Kappa and Demosthenian societies. The size and quality of their collections became a focus of their rivalry. These two collections were each about the size of the University library's (The official collection was 7,267 volumes according to the 1850 catalog.) The size of each of the society libraries was 4,000-5,000 volumes. They collected popular novels and other works that the university did not buy. They also supplemented the library's collection of history, political science, philosophy, and literature. By the 1890s the need for each society to maintain a separate library ended as the University's library was finally able to support all of the needs of the campus. Also,the interest of the members of the societies in their libraries lessened as they began to be influenced by the activities of the social fraternities. The History Department acquired their collections and eventually the volumes became part of the University library when the department gave up its reading room.

Following the Civil War, the University had little money for the library since its state endowment had been lost in Confederate securities. In 1875, the University established a library fee for students, which provided a small but steady income for the library. A large room on the second floor of what is now the Academic Building officially housed the library. In reality its collection was scattered over the campus. The History Department was not the only department to have established its own special collection. Since the faculty spent University's library money it became an established practice to take a book ostensibly bought for the library and place it in a departmental collection. Since the librarian's responsibilities were performed by a rotating member of the faculty (with occasional interludes when a student or some member of the University's staff handled the actual management of the room) there was no one to object to the practice.

By the end of the century the library comprised more than 30,000 volumes and needed a larger building. Also, there was a growing concern over the lack of a professional librarian to manage the library. In 1887 Sarah Frierson became the first full-time library employee of the University. Frierson was not a trained librarian so she only provided limited reference assistance to users and simple cataloging of new books. The University needed a librarian who could bring the library to the standards of similar institutions in the South and manage a larger facility.

By 1903 the generosity of George Foster Peabody enabled the University to construct a new library building. The initial design featured a main reading room, a periodicals room, and three stories of stacks. Duncan Burnet from the University of Missouri became the librarian. The library finally became responsible for the development of the collection, since book ordering was among Burnet's duties. Burnet had relative freedom to spend his budget as he saw fit. The various departmental libraries, however, continued to receive a share of the library fees paid by students, and funding tended to be erratic. In addition to the library fees, the University occasionally gave special funding for special collections of rare material or when some particular area of study needed improvement. It was not until the 1920s that the library received funding as a regular part of the University's budget.

Burnet directed the library until 1940 and continued to serve on the library staff until the 1950s. During the period he directed the library, the collection grew from nearly 35,000 volumes to 146,000. He added to the types of material collected, including recordings and microforms. He also began to exchange duplicate materials with other libraries as a routine means of acquiring new items. As the chair of the University's Publications Committee, he received extra copies of University imprints for use in trading.

In 1938, a team of consultants headed by Louis Round Wilson, Jr. examined the library. The study focused on a number of library problems, including the small size of the budget and the need to reorganize the book selection process to permit more direction from the faculty. Also mentioned was the lack of a coherent policy for developing the collection that identified it strengths and needs.

As a result of this report, the University hired a new director for the library, Ralph H. Parker. He began by reorganizing the responsibilities of the staff into two large departments for Processing and Services. The Order Division and cataloging functions were concentrated in Processing. All book purchases had to go through the Order Division to consolidate procedures and eliminate duplicate purchases. For book selection, Parker created an Advisory Book Selection Council of thirty-five faculty members to represent “each of the major fields of interest.” In addition, he suggested that subject bibliographers should be hired to evaluate the collection. By 1943, a Faculty Library Committee was making annual recommendations to Parker regarding how much money should be spent on each discipline.

During World War II the greater needs of the state limited the budget for the library. The end of the war brought a special opportunity for the library, however. It participated in a Library of Congress plan to obtain books and journals produced during the war. In addition, the library received a special grant of $40,000 for the acquisition of European material based on faculty lists.

W. Porter Kellam became library director in 1950. By this time the collection had grown to over 250,000 volumes. Although the Peabody building had been expanded and remodeled over the years, it was long overdue to be replaced. In addition to the main library, there were the major collections at the Law School and the South Branch library for agriculture contained in the Lumpkin “Rock” House. The library also had some smaller branch locations as well as a number of storage sites in various buildings, both on and off campus, which needed to be consolidated. In 1950, the University embarked upon building a new library. Some years earlier, Ilah Dunlap Little had made a major bequest to the University for a library building, but the gift had been delayed by other stipulations of her will. At this time the University was finally able to take advantage of Mrs. Little's generosity.

The University demolished the old Chancellor's House and erected a new library on the site by 1953. Along with the move into the new building came another major reorganization of the library staff. Kellam divided the main library into several large divisions. Each controlled its own collection of materials. Each division performed its own book selection and provided reference services for users. The central acquisitions department continued to place all orders for materials.

During the 1960s the library changed its approach to book selection. Although books continued to be bought based on recommendations by the faculty, most items were acquired from scholarly publishers using book approval plans. The first plans began with university presses in 1966, but in following years the program was expanded to included commercial publishers in the United States and overseas. In the 1970s the process changed so that publishers sent book announcements to subject bibliographers who used this information to help guide their selections.

To keep track of this influx of material, the library began to look at using computers for library projects as early as 1963. By 1969 the library had acquired its own NEC 100 computer but the library failed to develop a system that utilized it successfully. In 1974, new director Warren Boes ordered a study of the issues involved in developing a successful system to manage library materials. This led to the development of the MARVEL system, which was implemented in August 1978. Under director David Bishop the use of MARVEL expanded into other areas such as managing the circulation of materials and moving towards replacing the card catalog. Finally, the current director William Gray Potter replaced MARVEL with a more advanced system called GALIN that further broadens access to information. Both automated systems were developed by the University of Georgia Libraries, in cooperation with the University's Computer Center, to fulfill the Libraries' mission in ways that commercial systems could not duplicate.

Between 1950 and 1960 the collection grew from 254,340 volumes to 434,300, which included the volumes added to the overall collections when the library took over responsibility for the libraries at the agricultural experiment stations at Griffin and Tifton. This growth was the prelude to the near doubling of the collection that followed in each of the next two decades as the library began to receive the funds necessary to develop into a research facility. By 1970, the collection had grown to just over one million volumes. Nearly a million more were added by 1980. In 1992 the University of Georgia Libraries collections surpassed the three million mark in books and bound periodicals. This is in addition to the many items in other formats such as original manuscripts, microforms, recordings in every format from LP records to compact discs, and various kinds of electronic records.

The housing of these new materials has meant a continuing expansion of the Libraries' facilities. In 1974, a nine-story addition was added to the Ilah Dunlap Little Memorial Library. The Law School Library expanded several times over the years. Since 1940, the South Branch Library became the Science Library, moving from the Lumpkin House, to the Geography-Geology-Mathematics Building, and finally to the Boyd Graduate Studies Building. Other, smaller branches are maintained around the campus and the state. In 1992, the library occupied a newly built remote storage facility that is designed to hold 700,000 volumes until the new buildings that are now needed on campus can be constructed. The collections of the University of Georgia Libraries continue to expand in both quality and quantity of material as the Libraries respond to the needs of the University and the state for a research and educational facility.

SOURCE: University of Georgia Libraries Handbook, 1989; Preservation Planning Program Background Paper, 1990. Pamphlet prepared for the UGA Libraries Professional Development Committee's Fifth Biennial W. Porter Kellan Conference, 1993.