Skip to Search


George A. Smathers Libraries Home Page

George A. Smathers Libraries History

Genesis: The University Libraries, 1905 - 1918


    The new university campus, which was out in pine woods far to the West of downtown Gainesville, consisted of Thomas Hall (the main building, which contained the libraries, as well as offices, laboratories, and lecture rooms), Buckman Hall (a dormitory), and Machinery Hall. A faculty was appointed in 1905 that included C. A. Finley as Librarian of the Main Library and H. T. Perkins as Stenographer and Librarian of the Agricultural Library. Standing Committees were formed as well, including one for the library appointed in 1905/06. The library had about 3,000 volumes formed from the collections brought in from the previous four institutions, but primarily from the Florida Agricultural College collection. The library situation remained relatively stable until 1909 when additional libraries were established. On the other hand, there was a quick turnover of librarians. The first librarian C. A. Finley remained only two years, as did his successor W. S. Cawthon, but the next librarian, Milton B. Hadley was librarian for ten years (1908-18).

    While no library building was part of the original plan for the university, one was included later in the long-range plan, along with 43 other buildings. The Main Library and the Agriculture Library were two separate collections, but both were originally located in Thomas Hall (1905/06). Later, the Main Library remained in Thomas Hall, while the Agriculture Library moved into the Agricultural Experiment Station Laboratory Building (Agriculture Hall, now Griffin-Floyd Hall) as soon as it was completed in 1910. In addition to these libraries, the following were established in 1909: the Law Library, the Botanical Library, the Zoological Library, and the Physics Library.

    Library collections had increased to 12,00 volumes in 1910, and changes continued to be made. The library became a depository for federal documents (perhaps in 1907, although it was considered a ?depository of public documents? while still at the Florida Agriculture College in Lake City). As mentioned, the Agriculture Library moved to new quarters in Agricultural Hall. By 1912 the Main Library (along with a dining hall, assembly hall, lecture rooms, and laboratory rooms) expanded to three sections of Thomas Hall (the other sections being occupied with student rooms). It then moved in 1913/14 to George Peabody Hall. In 1912/13, these libraries were joined by an Engineering Library (a "Computing Room" was furnished with a library of about two hundred reference books for use in connection with the work of the mechanical laboratories and draughting room). And by 1915/16 the Agriculture Library had branched out to include a small collection in each of the departments.

    By the time Milton B. Hadley stepped down as librarian in 1918, he had increased the collection to 20,000 volumes. However, the available $5,000 book fund only covered two-fifths of the books the faculty were requesting. When Cora Miltimore replaced Hadley in 1918, a new era began for the university libraries.

History by Vernon N. Kisling, Jr.

University of Florida Home Page