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    Institutional Memory
    by Darlene Newman (34 years), Judy Breeden (30 years), Anna Lee Newman (25 years), Jerry Gill (27 years) , Gordon Miller (24 years).

    Editor's Note: On my request, these members of the library faculty and staff convened a meeting to discuss the changes in the libraries over the course of their combined 140 years of experience. What follows are their recollections of the changes that have occurred during their time. Their efforts are appreciated. Appropriate additions will be added! - kc.

    When we arrived at JMU there was parking (even in front of Wilson Hall!).

    Technical Services was one large open room with seven or eight people and one phone among them.

    The dumbwaiter in the A stack levels was the only way to get books from one floor or level to another. This was before the first addition was added in 1970, which now comprise the B stack levels.

    The women’s room just outside Technical Services was once an office.

    In the early 70’s there was no Public Services Desk, or library instruction. A building bell was rung from Circulation to summon the on-duty librarian. One student described the process of Jerry being paged as, “They ring the bell and this little man comes out.

    Our journals holding list was on two very large carrousel files. Journals were in an open reading room where Technical Services is now. Because of the open access, issues were always missing. Older and less used journals and book were kept in the attic and the person on duty had to retrieve them.

    Interlibrary Loan requests were done by a reference librarian on an old TWX (pronounced “twix”), using a punched tape mechanism. It made a great deal of noise. ILL’s only verification tools were New Serial Titles and NUC.

    Circulation used checkout cards with colored plastic sleeves (to show status – grad, faculty, TA). These had to be culled by hand for overdue items. Paper request forms were filled out to hold records. Faculty had to bring in their checked out books once a year for renewal.

    Circulation used to be located where Reba’s and Sandy’s offices are now. The main entrance was where the current exhibit cases are now. As people left the library student assistants would check their book bags. The Public Services Desk had a small fine box. There was no cash register.

    Three classrooms were in the basement where Library Science department was located. When classes changed the flood of students leaving swamped the student checking book bags at the Public Services Desk.


    Students in line to have book bag checked before leaving library.
    Photo courtesy of Special Collections, JMU Libraries.

    One of the Circulation folks actually tried to take a fine through the window in the old lobby. (Drive thru anyone?)

    Course Reserves has been almost everywhere except the attic.

    The only total collection inventory we remember was in the very early 70’s. The library was closed so that all library staff could help.

    The stairwells off the B stacks had battery-operated alarms and they would go off occasionally if someone went out that way. They would have to be manually reset.

    The library before the 1982 addition was small and cramped.

    The card catalog was the main access to the collection. It was a dictionary catalog and finally was divided by subjects and author/title. We stopped adding cards in 1985 after an automated system was introduced.


    Searching the card catalog.
    Photo courtesy of Special Collections, JMU Libraries.

    The library would have open house each fall for new and returning faculty. Punch and home baked cookies were provided. This was actually quite popular with many faculty. The debate team would also come in that time of year and some would partake of the refreshments.

    There used to be staff photos taken about every year on the old front steps.

    In 1973 the conversion from Dewey to Library of Congress class systems started.

    Time was when the library closed at 11 p.m. with the librarians working Reference that late and closing the building. They even had to push in the chairs around the study tables.

    Our conference room 109 was bigger (no Dean’s office) and contained new books. Book talks were held there.

    mail comments and questions to:
    clarkeke@jmu.edu

    Copyright 2001. JMU Libraries.
    All rights reserved.