Reprinted in 1916 from an article on The University Library, in The Princeton

University Bulletin, May, 1898.


 By E. C. Richardson, Librarian.



The completion of the new Library building so far as it is to be occupied at present, and the approaching completion of extensive improvements on the Chancellor Green building afford a suitable occasion for reviewing briefly in the Bulletin a history of the progress of the Library from its foundation up to the present time, * and giving some special account of the recent increase and improvement in the building facilities. [* Note -- This sketch should not be taken as a serious attempt at a history of the Library. It is merely a journalistic attempt to put together some material now in hand, gathered with reference to a future history by necessarily fragmentary at present.]


Growth in Books.

While the history of the Library of the College of New Jersey undoubtedly began with the college itself, the first known mention of it is in the resolution of the Board of Trustees in 1750 authorizing the President to purchase a book-case for the college; and the second in the 1754 edition of the "General Account" prepared in 1752 for the use of Messrs. Davies and Tennent in their famous tour of Great Britain in search of funds for the college. It probably depended during the earliest years chiefly on the private libraries of Presidents Dickson and Burr, and it may have been owing to this fact that although large enough to need a case in 1750, yet in 1754 the Library had still to be described as "at present very small."

One of the prominent objects of this visit to Great Britain of Messrs. Davies and Tennent was "the furnishing of the Library," and there is reason to suppose that they secured both books and money for books, as well as, according to the advertised purpose, the funds for a building to contain among other things "a Library Room."

This Library Room itself witnessed the faith of the founders, for it was, we know, planned on such an ample scale that when the Congress came to meet there in 1783 the room was found to be "nearly as spacious as that which they occupied in Philadelphia." And the faith of the founders was quickly justified, by gifts from abroad, by the gifts, so that, before the end of 1759 the total number of volumes had become not far from 1,300.

But the evolution of the book collection was not all "anabolistic." So far from being always up-grade there were at least two occasions when the "catagentic" tendency was such as to threaten entire destruction. On the outbreak of the Revolution, Nassau Hall was alternately occupied by Americans, British, and Americans again. It served as barracks, prison, stable, and hospital. Books were carried away wholesale by the soldiers of Cornwallis, who took some of them as far as South Carolina. What foes spared, friends spoiled again, and the waste went on until in 1779, when Dr. Ashbel Green entered college, "what was left, did not deserve the name of a library."

After the Revolution, however, the process of recuperation began again with vigor. A leading factor in the recovery was doubtless the (1800 pounds) appropriation made by the New Jersey Legislature in 1796, in view of the war losses of the college, and appropriated by law to "repairing of the buildings and the increase of the library and to the provision of the philosophical apparatus." Through this appropriation, various gifts, and the funds coming from each student for the use of the Library, the increase was such that when Nassau Hall was burned in 1802 "three thousand volumes of valuable books perished," this being in fact all but a hundred of the total number.

But this second disaster proved a blessing in disguise. The sympathy was such that within two years it became far larger and stronger than before, and in 1804 the Library had become "a most valuable collection of nearly 4,000 volumes." At least 744 of these were gifts, but a large share had been freshly purchased by an appropriation on the part of the Trustees of $3,000 out of the funds raised, a sum which was afterwards increased by 34 pounds.

For several years there seems to have been a lull, only broken by a grant of $100 worth of books now and then; but on the 13th of August, 1812, the collection was increased by the purchase of the library of President Smith by the College, for the sum of $1,500. In 1816 the Library numbered 7,000 volumes. This was followed by another period of barrenness, relieved by occasional small appropriations. In 1823 the number of books was still 7,000, and the same number was still registered in the catalogue of 1831. This looks like a mistake, but as a matter of fact the additions in 1826 were but eight besides certain periodicals, in 1827 four, in 1828 none, in 1829 one (gift), in 1830 three books, one magazine and one pamphlet.

In 1831 four books were purchased and 108 public documents given. In this year the Librarian was authorized to expend the full amount paid by students annually, and gifts continued to abound. In 1832, however, although fourteen volumes were given, no books seem to have been purchased; but in 1833 there was an ambitious attempt to secure the duplicates of the Munich Royal Library, which, although it came to naught, seems to have aroused some energy and perhaps brought money, for in this year many books were puchased, including the 160 volumes of Valpy Classics, and many gifts were received, including seventy-four volumes of British Records. In 1835 there were at least thirty gifts, in 1836 seventy-four volumes of gifts, in 1837 forty-six of gifts and eleven of exchanges. In 1839 the Library reached 8,000 volumes. During the following years, apparently without special appropriations or any large gifts, excepting one of twenty-one volumes in 1835 and one of sixty-eight volumes in 1856, it increased to 9,313 v olumes in 1850 when Dr. Giger became Librarian. In 1859 the number was increased by the gift of several hundred volumes from the library of Professor Hope and in 1865 by several hundred volumes from Professor Giger.

In 1868 it numbered about 14,000 volumes, but at that time, through the influence of Chancellor Green, Mr. John C. Green established an endowment, and the number of books began rapidly to increase until in 1873 it numbered 20,000 volumes, after which the Trendelenberg collection of about 10,000 volumes was added, and this, together with various gifts and purchases, brought the number up to 44,000 in 1879. This number increased to 65,000 in 1890, and to 106,000 today.

Gifts of Books

A large source of accession to the Library, and important in spite of its casual nature, has always been special gifts of books. Up to 1760 at least, the collection had been "almost entirely formed of Donations." The gift by Governor Belcher in 1755, those from British friends though Witherspoon in 1768 and later have already been mentioned. In 1785 Dr. Rogers gave an "elegant story" of Monanus’ Hebrew Bible. In 1793-5 "valuable donations were received from British friends," and in 1802, after the fire which almost destroyed the Library, Princeton’s previous experiences in gifts of books were quite surpassed. At this time the Rev. Dr. Erskine of Scotland, who had been a benefactor at the time of the visit of Tennent and Davies in 1754, himself sent thirty volumes and his friends sent more. On this side of the Atlantic the response was even more cordial still. The President of Harvard College (Dr. Willard) in particular greatly assisted by example and influence (not the first time, by the way, that Princeto n had benefited by the spirit of comity on the part of Harvard); so that while the direct gifts of books to the Library at this time amounted to 744 volumes, almost one-half of these were contributed by Massachusetts; the distribution being as follows: Massachusetts, 356; New York, 123; Tennessee, 104; Great Britain, 83; New Jersey, 72.


In the following years there are records of gifts by Hosack, Burder, Piteairn, Choules, Buonaparte, and Woodhull. In 1834 the British Government presented the Record Commission publications. In the following years the gifts of Chancellor Kent, James Lenox, Matthew Newkirk, I. V. Brown, Professors Hope and Gigor, and the family of W.H. Beatty are among the most noteworthy.

Undoubtedly the largest single giver of books to the Library since its foundation, if the gifts by the Green family for the purchase of books be excepted, is Mr. John S. Pierson, ’40, of New York City, who has been giving for more than twenty-five years. He has given more than 5,000 volumes relating to American history and especially to the history of the Civil War, and is continuing his good work. It is impossible to enumerate in these limits the small army of givers who are doing so much to increase the value of the Library at the present time, but among the more noteworthy contributions are the Collection of Virgils presented by Junius S. Morgan ’88, and various gifts by M. Taylor Pyne ’77, C. W. McAlpin ’88, William Libbey ’77, Charles Scribner ’75, and George A. Armour ’77.

Gifts of Money, Appropriations and Purchases of Books

There is indirect evidence that a few books were purchased for the Library before 1760, and there is presumptive evidence that books were purchased from students’ fees after 1765, but the first direct record is the payment in 1768 of 125 pounds to Field, the London Bookseller, with interest and exchange amounting to 248-6-6 pounds proc. This was paid by appropriation. The legislative appropriation of 1796 was made in part for books. In 1796 a committee of the Trustees was authorized to pay Mr. Campbell 53 pounds and 6 shillings. New York currency for sixteen volumes of an encyclopedia, which they did, paying $133.37 and agreeing at the same time to take the other columes "at the same rate." After the fire of 1802 $3,000 was expended for books out of moneys raised at the time and later this appropriation was increased by 34 pounds. When the books of this purchase were received, the Trustees memorialized Congress, but in vain, to have the duties on them remitted. In 1809 the sum of $300 was appropriated and in 1810 and 1812 one hundred dollars each. In 1812 $1,500 was appropriated for President Smith’s library, which, although it was proposed at one time to sell it, was finally kept. In 1814 and 1815 appropriations of $100 were made and in 1818 a special appropriation for certain scientific journals, Stephens’ Thesaurus, DuCange’s Glossary, etc. Other appropriations were in 1819 ($500); 1820 ($200); 1821 ($440), 1822 ($300 and special for periodicals); 1825 ($50); 1831 (the full amount paid by students annually for library); 1833 ($50). In 1833 the purchase of 85,000 or 90,000 duplicates from the Munich Library at 20 to 25c. per volume was considered, but on examination by Prof. Alexander the purchase was not recommended, the committee reporting, however, "that hereafter the eminence of the literary institutions in this country will depend more on the extent and value of their libraries than any other circumstance," a statement which is questioned by President Maclean in his History and it may be supposed in his administration, but which is nevertheless as fundamentally true still as it was then or at the time when President Davies regarded this as "the most proper and valuable fund with which a college can be endowed." This same year 1833 it was ordered that the whole sum received from the students for the Library should be employed for its increase, and there considered, as since and everywhere, an easy thing to economize on when the funds are short. Twice at least since that time the Trustees have found it necessary to pass similar orders.

In 1836 James Madison left the Library a legacy of $1,000, which, it is said, "was the only considerable gift in money previous to 1868, and was applied to the purchase of books."

Up to 1868 the history of the Library funds was rather a history of things absent than of reality, but at that time the late John C. Green, at the request of Chancellor Green, established the Elizabeth Fund for the purchase of books, out of which the Library has since received $3,000 a year. This has been supplemented at various times by special gifts from the Green family, notably by the purchase of the Trendelenberg Library in 1873 and during 1877-1878 when $25,000 was expended for books, especially sets of scientific periodicals. From time to time various classes have given money for special purchases of books. In 1893 a sum for the endowment of a library of Political Science and Jurisprudence from the Class of ’83 was received, and in 1895 a sum for the endowment of the library of English Poetry, from the Class of ’75. Mrs. C. B. Alexander has recently given $2,500 for the purchase of books on Ethics, and in 1896, Hon. John L. Cadwalader, ’56, gave $5,000 for books. There are at present writing some co nsiderable gifts in prospect.

Students’ Fees

It is not known that there was nay systematic appropriation by the Trustees for the purchase of books or their care before 1765; but at that time it was "ordered for the future, that every Student and Resident Graduate (he officers of the College excepted) who make use of the public Library shall pay to the steward the sum of 2 shillings Cd. Every quarter of a year to be expended for the use of the Library," the expression implying that there had been no such charge in the past. In 1770 this charge was reduced to 18 pence. In 1786 it was ordered "that each student pay at the beginning of every session (i.e. half year) the sum of 5 shillings for the use of the Library," and in 1794-5 it appears that the income for that year at that rate was about 18 pounds per session or 36 pounds per year. If the Library received the same percentage of money at the present day, it would have more than $1,000 a year from this source. As it is, although the actual amount received for each student is about the same as in 1774 , the total amount received for each student is about the same as in 1774, the total amount received, owing to increase in students, is nearly $2,000.

The Trustee Committee on Library

Up to 1830 all business between trustees and librarian seems to have been transacted by the board as a whole, but in this year it was resolved "that there be a standing committee of five members of the Board to be denominated the Library Committee to be annually appointed, who (without interfering with or in any wise controlling the Librarian in the discharge of his present or future duties) shall be charged with the superintendence of the Library."

In 1839 this committee was discontinued, but in 1848 it was revived again and now exists as the "Committee on Library and Apparatus," of which Dr. W.H. Green is Chairman.


At various times in the history of the college the office of Librarian ahs been exercised by President, Trustees, tutors, professors, and special librarians. In 1760 President Davies was "desired by the Trustees to make a catalogue of books in the Library." It is probable that he himself exercised the office f Librarian and made the catalogue. The first regular Librarian seems to have been a special officer, although he is also curator of buildings, (a union of officers which often occurs, the "Library" generally taking precedence in the title). In 1768 President Witherspoon, who seems to have brought over with him not only books but one Mr. Hugh Sim, recommended Mr. Sim as a "person of singular ingenuity and merit and well qualified to serve the interests of the college." The college, however, did not long profit by his "ingenuity and merit," for in 1770 he had been gone long enough for the Trustees to find that "sufficient care is not taken of the books for want of a properly established librarian," and Mr. William Houston was appointed "to be the college librarian." Under Mr. Houston the office of assistant librarian was inaugurated by the Trustees, who ordered that "he should be at liberty to appoint a Deputy under him." Mr. Houston’s compensation was "18d. per quarter on every student or resident graduate belonging to this college." This should have yielded an income of at least 20 pounds, and since Mr. Houston on resigning the office of inspector of rooms resigned also 5 pounds out of his salary for the Library, the balance may be regarded as the Librarian’s salary, though how large a part of this went for the "Deputy" does not appear.

In 1775 Professor Houston appears as Professor and Librarian. In 1786 Mr. Gilbert Snowden was appointed "Librarian and Overseer of college repairs" at a salary of 5 pounds.

The list of Librarians for 1793 to date, according to the General Catalogue, is given below. Al of these up to the appointment of Mr. Frederick A. Vinton, on the Green Foundation in 1873, with the single exception of Mr. Sim, held the librarianship as a subordinate par of their work, the salary attached being seldom more than $100 (1849) and often less (1835 $80, before 1834 less still), although in 1866 Prof. Cameron was specially thanked and presented with $250 for extra efficient service, and in 1870 his salary was increased $100 for a similar reason. In some cases the librarianship was merely nominal. This was generally the case when a catalogue had to be made, and naturally so when in 1840 the office of Librarian and Registrar with the "salary and emolument" of Tutor was in existence. To this practical librarianship Mr. William A. Dod was appointed in 1841, and in 1844 Mr. Jesse Edwards appears to have held the same office. From 1873 to 1877 Mr. Vinton seems to have had no assistant, but in 1877 one w as appointed, and in 1878 another, and before his death in 1889 there were four regular assistants not including occasional helpers. At the present time there are eight regular assistants. It should be noted, however, that although some assistants receive more than those of 1841 and 1877, the average compensation by reason of subdivision of labor is not more than half that of the earlier days.

Within the last two or three years the administration has been strengthened by the appointment in 1895 of Mr. V. L. Collins as Reference Librarian and in 1897 of the Mr. Junius S. Morgan as Associate Librarian, each bearing rank of Assistant Professor.

 Following is a list of Librarians and dates, including the known cataloguers and assistant librarians to 1868:

1768 Hugh Sim.
1770 William Church Houston, Tut., Prof.
1786 Gilbert Tennent Snowden, Tut.
1793 John Nelson Abeel, Tut., 1793.
1793 Robert Finley, Tut., 1794.
1794 David English, Tut., 1796.
1804 Henry Kollock, Prof., 1806.
1804 Alfred Ely, Tut., 1805.
[1805 Alfred Gilly, Cataloguer.]
1806 Samuel Bayard, Tru., 1807.
1807 Hezekiah Belknap, Tut., 1809.
1809 William Dunlop, Tut., 1810.
1810 John Bergen, Tut., 1812.
1812 Philip Lindsley, Prof., 1824.
[1814 Joseph H. Skelton, Cataloguer.]
[1822 Moses T. Harris, Cataloguer.]
1824 John Maclean, Prof., 1850.
[1841 William A. Dod, Asst. Librarian.]
[1844 Jesse Edwards, Asst. Librarian.]
1850 George Musgrave Giger, Prof., 1865.
[1865 Rev. William Harris, Cataloguer, 1866.]
1865 Henry Clay Cameron, Prof., 1873.
1873 Frederic Vinton, 1899.
[1889 C. Martins, Acting Librarian.]
[1897 Junius S. Morgan, Associate Librarian.]


Catalogues and Cataloguing

The history of the cataloguing of the books began with the publishing of the printed catalogue of 1760. This was prepared by President Davies in 1759 and, as used to be the custom and is today often in the English auction catalogue, books are arranged in classes according to size and alphabetically by authors in the classes. In 1770 Mr. Houston was required "to provide himself with a proper book in which he shall enter a very exact catalogue of all books belonging to the library." In 1786 the Treasurer was required to keep a special list of all donation made to the Library and in 1798 Dr. Witherspoon was "empowered to procure a complete catalogue of the library to be formed with a double index."

In September, 1803, it was ordered that a catalogue of the books be made, and in 1805 Mr. Alfred Ely having made such a catalogue was again ordered and in 1813 Mr. Bergen was paid $20.00 for making it. At the same time it was ordered that a copy of this catalogue be made and in 1814 $7.00 was paid for such copy and $9.00 for a catalogue of Dr. Smith’s library, both to Joseph H. Skelton.

In 1821 it was ordered that "a manuscript catalogue of books now in the library be made under he direction of Mr. Woodhull, and the Librarian, to be submitted to the Board at their next meeting." In 1822 Moses T. Harris was paid $100 for this work and $5.75 for stationary. In this year also a committee was appointed to consider the matter of a printed catalogue, and in 1825 the matter was taken up again and inquiry made as to cost. In April, 1826, the faculty was authorized to print 1,000 copies of such a catalogue, but the matter seems to have rested there, and no catalogue to have been actually published. In 1844 Mr. Jesse Edwards, the Assistant Librarian, prepared a catalogue of his own free will without remuneration, but was thanked by the Trustees and present with $50 in recognition of this service. In 1865 an appropriation if $250 was made to employ some suitable person to make a catalogue, an in February, 1866, this appropriation was increased to $400. In June, 1866, the Rev. Mr. Harris, who had bee n engaged for this work, owing to a failure of health, was obliged to give up the transcribing of the catalogue, but he was paid the $400. In the meantime, Professor Cameron had been appointed Librarian and had undertaken the work of re-arranging the Library and the classification of the books on the shelves according to subjects. The Trustees were so well pleased with this work that they gave Professor Cameron in 1866 a special vote of thanks and he sum of $250 for his pains.

With the accession of Mr. Vinton many other features of catalogue administration were introduced. His first care was "to prepare a conspectus of the Library [what was not know as a shelf list] arranged according to the departments of the college." He also introduced the card cataloguing system and prepared catalogues of authors and subjects. Both these systems, although considerably modified, are still in operation. A third feature now recognized as necessary to complete the cataloguing system was afterwards added in the starting of an accessions catalogue, and the Library has now a nearly complete, though in some respects somewhat rough, catalogue system according to the most modern methods. An alphabetical subject catalogue of the Library was printed in 1884, a list of books by and about the Alumni in 1876, and a catalogue of the special collection known as the Class of ’83 Library of Political Science and Jurisprudence was published in 1893. It is intended as soon as funds are available for the purpose, to have a catalogue set up in Linotype bars, by which method it will be practicable to keep a few copies for Library use of a printed catalogue kept thoroughly up to date.

Hours of Opening, etc.

In 1770 the Librarian of his Deputy were "required to be in regular attendance twice in every week for the space of one hour for delivering the books to the student, who shall be allowed but one book at a time." In 1794 the hours of opening had been reduced so that the Library was open one day in the week at noon. Special provision was made by which if a Trustee wished to use a book in the building at other times he could be admitted, but it was evidently not intended that any others should use books in the building, although they were allowed to draw books one at a time and to keep, "a folio six weeks, a quarto four weeks, an octavo two weeks and every other book one week." Those not connected with the College were allowed to borrow, leaving on deposit their note for the value of the book, but no book could be loaned "to any person who lives more than a mile from the college." Although in the meantime usage had varied (the Library being open in 1829 four times a week and in 1831 five times for an hour at a time), yet the one hour a week rule was still in force when Dr. McCosh came in 1868, and it was "opened on Monday of each week for the accommodation of the students." In 1868, however, provision was made for extending the hours of opening to one hour a day five days in the week, and when on October 20th, 1873, the Chancellor Green Library Building was first opened to the students for the purpose of studying, it was open five days in the week for an hour in the morning and an hour in the afternoon. Shortly after, another hour in the morning was added, but in general up to 1877-8 books were delivered only during one hour, although the Library was open the other two hours for consultation. In 177-8 it was opened from 10 to 1 and from 3 to 5, although books could be drawn only during one hour in the morning and two in the afternoon. Later the hours for drawing books were extended to that in 1888 it was open six hours of the day, during five of which books could be drawn. In1889 still another consulta tion hour was added, and in 1890 it was arranged to keep open both for deliver and consultation from 8 a.m. until at least 10 p.m.


In1750 a "book-case" was sufficient provision for holding the Library, but in1754, when the money was being raised for Nassau Hall, the need had developed so far that one of the special objects in the contemplation was "a library room." This room was situated on the second floor front and remained the home of the Library until Nassau Hall was burned in 1802. That is was of ample size is shown by the fact that already mentioned that it was "nearly as spacious as the one which Congress occupied in Philadelphia." The Library rooms of the Societies seem to have been at this time (1802) on the top floor of Nassau Hall. After the burning of the College it was decided that a special building should be erected "containing two rooms adapted to the accommodation of the Sophomore and Freshman Classes during the time which they study in the presence of their teachers; a room for the reception and handsome exhibition of the Library of the College;" etc. this building was what is now used for College Offices. Later two of the rooms were used for the Libraries of Whig and Clio. This remained the home of the Library until Nassau Hall was again injured in 1855. When it was rebuilt in 1855-6, a new Chapel having been built meantime, the old Chapel was fitted up as a Library Room, and is described as follows: "The Library Room is large, beautifully proportioned, and chastely finished. It is seventy-four feet in length, thirty-six feet wide, and thirty feet high. It has fourteen alcoves and the shelves are of slate, the parts exposed to view being enameled in imitation of Egyptian marble. The floor is also of slate, supported by iron beams and arches of brick." The Library having been once more restored to Nassau Hall remained there until the building of the Chancellor Green Library in 1872.

The Chancellor Green building was shelved for 100,000 volumes, and was in many respects a model library building for a college library, but the remarkable growth of the Library during the years following was such that as early as 1888 the Librarian reported it overcrowded beyond convenient use. In connection with the Sesquicentennial, however, a donor, whose name is still withheld, came forward to provide a thoroughly adequate extension of facilities in this regard by the gift of a building to cost $600,000. Shortly after, Dr. Charles E. Green made provision for extensive improvements in the Chancellor Green Library and the New Library building, represents a building investment of about $800,000 and provides ample room for 1,250,000 volumes and their proper administration and use. Following is a detailed description of this enlarged building.

The Present Library Building and Its Use

The Library building at present consists of the Chancellor Green Library building and the New Building, joined together in such a way as to form one administrative unit.

The Chancellor Green Library

The Chancellor Green Library building consists of a central octagon with two wings, which are counterparts externally, and consist of octagonal buildings joined from wing to wing being 160 feet. The central octagon is sixty-four feet in diameter, is fifty feet high at the highest points, and contains an elevated floorway twelve feet from the floor and sixteen feet wide. Each side of the octagon contained originally four radial book-cases on each floor and the sixty-four cases furnished a shelving capacity of about 100,000 volumes.

The west wing consists of a single room with extreme length of forty feet and extreme width of twenty feet, and is occupied as a room for the meetings of the Trustees. Its counterpart on the east end is divided into two administration rooms with safes, etc.

The plan of the building was prepared according to the suggestions of Chancellor Green and Professor Shields. Ground was broken November 10th, 1872. The dedication exercises took place at the Commencement in 1873, and it was finished about the first of September of the same year, the books being moved in from Nassau Hall August 20-23. The architect was Mr. Wm. A. Potter of New York.

When after a service of twenty-five years this building was found too small for storage purposes it proved equally and peculiarly fitted to the purposes of a working library and it was thoroughly adapted, under the direction of Dr. Charles E. Green, to these purposes, it being meant by "working library" that the building contains not only reading-room space and reference books, but also a large selection of books for general circulation, which will form a sort of reading list for students.

The improvements consist in (1) the introduction of a complete system of forced ventilation, so that the room can be made at all times suitable for study; (2) a complete system of electric lighting; (3) the taking out of certain of the projecting cases and replacing them with wall-cases and tables. This reduces considerably the amount of shelving, but enormously increases the space for reader. This arrangement leaves eight alcoves upstairs and seven down fitted with table, the other being used as passageway into the new building. The tables are for the most part 10 by 4 or 8 by 4 feet and afford accommodations for 200 readers or more. The arrangement of cases in this room is such that by the retention of the projecting cases at the corners of the octagon the character of the old room is preserved and the alcoves formed serve not merely as ordinary reading room, but serve many of the purposes of the small seminar room. The different alcoves are assigned to different branches—Reference books proper, American history, General history, General language and literature, Latin, Greek, etc., etc., and the leading periodicals, encyclopedias, reference books, text books, etc., of each class, including both books of reference and books for circulation, are gathered there. Provision is made for having all the latest accessions to each department placed on shelves at the entrance to the room. The Library is intended, therefore, to contain the best and latest working books in every department. The shelving capacity of the building is now about 35,000 volumes.

The portrait busts have been rearranged so that Chancellor Green faces the new entrance and is flanked by those of Presidents Maclean and McCosh, all three having had an active share in the formation of the Library so long identified with the name of Chancellor Green, which has for so many years been among the best equipped of college libraries, and which it is hoped may prove to be in its more specialized function even more distinguished than before. There is good reason to anticipate that in its equipment it will become second to none.

This room is the headquarters of the Reference Librarian, whose office is to assist investigators whether undergraduates of post-graduate to the sources for their work. it is connected with all parts of the building by telephone so that any book in the stack can at any time be sent for in this way, or by page who will be in attendance, and delivered at the desk of the reader.

The New Library Building

The New Library building, following the English collegiate style of the fifteenth century, is in the form of a hollow quadrangle, 160 by 155 feet square, two and a half stories high in the seminar rooms, five stories in the stack, and higher at the towers, connected with the Chancellor Green Library by a ligature of 20 by 50 feet. A count 75 by 75 is about the size recognized as suitable for light space. This building itself running around the quadrangle is forty feet through (twenty feet on each side being about the distance recognized by librarians as the practical distance which light will travel into the alcoves of the stack system).

Its history is as follows: In connection with the Sesquicentennial of the College and the announcement was made of a gift, by a donor whose name was and is still withheld, of the sum $600,000 to provide the sorely needed enlargement of the building facilities. The gift was presented through and administered by M. Taylor Pyne, Esq., ’77, who called into consultation Mr. Junius S. Morgan, ’88, and the Librarian, and after repeated plans had been submitted, the plans of Mr. Wm. A. Potter of New York, the architect of the old library, were accepted, contracts were signed in June and work was begun August 2nd. The greatest pains were taken by Mr. Pyne and the architect, together with all concerned, to secure the best form of architecture compatible with thorough practicality of administration and the best possible administrative capability compatible with suitable academic architecture. The form first proposed was not that collegiate style with was finally adopted; but when it was seen how thoroughly adapted this style was to technical needs it was adopted with enthusiasm on the part of both architect and committee. As a matter of fact, the hollow quadrangle is the only practical form for a library, allowing light from both sides. Most of the modern libraries of whatever shape, at home or abroad, when adapted with special reference to use, do and must have practically this form. The most recent example of a large city library in which the most extraordinary and scrupulous pains have been taken to get the most practical form in every respect (the New York City Library) illustrates this very point, the light well planned being not far from the dimensions of the quadrangle of this Library.

Practically the only concession to architecture that had to be made by administration was an inconsiderable increase in the size of the quadrangle light well over the absolutely necessary size for this building, which is lower than the average, unless the arrangement of windows be considered a concession; but it was found that even in this respect the style approached more nearly the ideal arrangement than any other known style, except what may be called factory style—the ideal of administration being a window opposite the entrance to each alcove.

The building contains delivery room, stack room, and about forty smaller rooms for various purposes; ten for administration and sixteen for seminar work, thirteen for machinery, toilet rooms, etc. It has the latest systems for heat, light, and ventilation, and is provided with electric light, interior telephone system, electric elevators, etc.

Delivery Room

The ligature connecting the Chancellor Green Library with the main part of the new building measures 20 by 50 feet and contains the Delivery room and the Printing and Binding room, the latter occupying the basement. Entrance to the building is from both sides through small hallways into the delivery room, one entrance facing Nassau Hall and the other Dickinson Hall. In the delivery room just at the south of the entrances, is the delivery desk or counter, which encloses all the space on that side excepting a passage to the Exhibition room on the west side. To the north of the entrances of the west side of the room are cases for card catalogue, with a capacity for overcoats and hats. The north face of the room is the entrance to the Chancellor Green Library.

The room is finished massively with brown stone and art-brick walls, mosaic floor, a paneled oak ceiling, and oak furniture. Leaded glass windows contain emblematic figures of Lux, Pax, etc. The grille work surmounting the delivery desk and separating the room from the stack and exhibition room is of hammered iron, natural finish.

The delivery desk is the Carfax of the Library, standing at the junction of the two ways connecting with the Campus, the way to the Working Library, the way to the Exhibition room, and the way to the Stack and Administration rooms. Here all the books taken for home use are charged and discharges and tickets of admission to the stack are presented.

Stack Room

The "stack" or shelving of the Library is suited to a final capacity of 1,250,000 volumes and occupies a room running all around the quadrangle.

Roughly speaking, all of the north and south portions of the building, except at the ends, are taken up in this way, as well as more or less space on the sides. There is actually somewhat more shelving in the side wings than appears on the ground plan, since the space over both driveways and over one set of seminar rooms at each corner is used for this purpose. The reason for this arrangement is that by the use of electric elevators, lifts and by underground trolley greater economy of administration is attained in bringing the average book to the delivery desk than under any other arrangement.

The stack is what is known as the Library Bureau’s system and consists of five stories, each story being seven and one-half feet high. The construction is of iron, steel, and glass, except the shelves which are of wood. The fundamental feature of the style is the "open end" construction, by which shelves are supported on brackets attached to a central upright rather than on pins or bars attached to ends. The brackets used are of white enameled rolled steel, and by the use of a set-screw in an iron channel these can be raised or lowered and so adjusted to any desired height whatever. The shelves are of wood because this allows of a groove in front for receiving shelf labels and the consequent doing away with the cumbersome label-holder, and also because the metal shelf is too slippery when polished and too wearing on the books when roughened. The floors are of glass and iron, the air spaces being left under each range of shelves, and these are protected against the dirt and water during cleansing by raised iron frames. The light and graceful structure of the open end system, the glass floors, white enamel ends and white painted rim, together with the admirable amount of area in the windows, produce an exceptionally light and attractive stack from the mush less than above, practically the same amount of light is obtained by the use of Luxfer prism glass. It is expected that the electric light will be needed in the daytime only on the very darkest days and toward the end of the afternoon. Nevertheless, the whole building has been furnished thoroughly with electric lights of the most complete plan in the hope that we may soon be able to open in the evening. While it is expected that the ample provisions for study outside the stack will do away with much of the need of study within, nevertheless ample provision has been made for such use if desired by tables scattered here and there throughout the stack.

Exhibition Room

Immediately adjoing the delivery room in the northwest corner of the stack an exhibition room 40 feet by 50 feet with alcove 12 by 25 feet has been made by leaving out two stories of the stack for this space and fitting this up with oak cabinets and showcases, including specially devised racks for holding folios when in use. The room contains the Morgan collection of Virgils and other books and manuscripts suitable for exhibition. The alcove contains the unique collection of portait masks presented by Mr. Laurence Hutton.

Administration Rooms

The northeast corner of the building is occupied by the administration rooms proper, the ground floor containing rooms for the chief Librarian, a typewriter’s room, and the ordering department room. The second floor has the corresponding three rooms thrown into one for cataloguing of periodicals and pamphlets. The basement contains storage rooms, safe, and storage vault, and toilet rooms. The ordering room is connected with the cataloguing room above by a small electric elevator. Books are brought into the former room by a door opening under the arch of the east tower. After they have been checked up with the order slips they are taken on the elevator to the floor above, where they are put through the various processes of the author and subject catalogue and the shelf-list.

In addition to these groups of rooms and the printing and binding rooms already mentioned, used for administration purposes, is the room in the east tower immediately adjoining the administration room proper, and furnished with two stories of stack, which is used for the "purchase system,"—the collection of booksellers’ catalogues, clippings, recommendations, etc,. which form the apparatus from which the list of books most needed for the library is being prepared—a list already including more than 200,000 volumes and which is being increased to include 500,00. The corresponding room opposite the tower is used for kept books. Each tower contains above the stack a room available for administration purposes, and the west tower has in addition a large room which is proposed to be used as a seminar room for bibliographical work.

Seminar Rooms

A special feature of the New Library building is the provision of rooms for what is known as seminar rooms for instruction in the method of research. This instruction, chiefly intended for post graduates, necessitates having the actual sources immediately about the instructor and the handling of them by pupils. This is peculiarly a method of book research, and corresponds, for the historical, philological, and philosophical sciences, to the laboratory for instruction in the physical sciences. Five rooms have been provided at each corner of the building excepting that occupied by administration. These are supplemented by four other rooms which may, if necessary, be used for the purpose, making at total of nineteen seminar rooms measuring about 27 by 22 feet.

The northwest corner will probably be assigned to Historical and Political Science and English, the southwest corner to the Philological Sciences, and the southeast to the Philosophical Sciences, including Art and Mathematics.

Basement Rooms

Besides the printing and binding room and the administration basement already described, the new building contains three series of three rooms each, under the seminar room. The northwest and southeast rooms are occupied by ventilating machinery, the northwest room containing also the automatic exchange for the interior telephone system, and the southwest corner is occupied by a storage battery.

Exterior Decoration

The four portrait statues on the west tower are by J. Massey Rhind and represent James Madison of the Class of 1771, President of the United States, and a Founder of Whig Hall; Oliver Ellsworth of the Class of 1766, Chief Justice of the United States, a Founder of Clio Hall; President Witherspoon, the signer of the Declaration of Independence, and President McCosh. The Class of 1897 has a tablet on the northwest corner and has planted ivy about it.


Some of the "points of agreement among Librarians as to library architecture," as compiled by Mr. C. C. Soule, and given in the November number of the Brochure Series of Architectural Illustrations, afford a basis of comparison as to the absolute and relative satisfactoriness of result in any library building.

According to Mr. Soule, Librarians are agreed that the building should be (1) planned for library work; (2) the particular kind of work to be done (i.e., University, public, etc.); (3) the interior planned first; (4) no essential convenience sacrificed for mere architectural effect; (5) adapted to growth; (6) with simple decoration in use rooms; (7) planned for economical administration; (8) supervised with fewest possible attendants; (9) as much natural light as possible in all parts; (10) high windows; (11) windows opposite interval of cases; (12) arrangement of obsolete books in alcoves (i.e. for storage); (13) accommodations for special readers near books; (14) circulating library books near delivery desk; (15) reference library ledge three feet from floor; (16) three feet between cases enough; (17) no shelf higher than a person can reach; (18) shelving for folios and quartos in every room; (19) straight flights preferable to circular; (20) communication between rooms by tubes and bells.

This Library was carefully planned with reference to the work of this University Library (1, 2) and is proving exceedingly satisfactory in use. The general lines of interior were planned (3) before the architect was consulted. No essential convenience (4) has been sacrificed to architecture. The slight concessions to architecture (such as the lighting of only one side of fifth story stack) in all cases stopping short when anything essential was threatened. The archway is not an architectural concession, but was necessitated by the road, and particular pains were given to minimizing the importance of this obstruction. The style allows of indefinite extension (5) in a series of quadrangles. Interior is simple in decoration (6) and particularly planned for economical administration (7) to the point, in fact, that (8) a single attendant with page stationed at delivery desk can supervise the whole machinery of its use. While the Library, in common with all other libraries, falls short of the ideal of a window o pposite each passage, windows are nevertheless arranged opposite the intervals of cases (11) so far a s praticable, and the large amount of light area, the white stack and the glass floors secure ample natural light (9) in all parts of the building. Windows are high (10) throughout. Books are not arranged in alcoves, (12) the Chancellor Green Library being no exception, as a different purpose is now served here, of which the alcoves are an advantage. There are tables throughout the stack (13) for special readers. Books are massed very closely (14) with reference to the delivery desk. Reference Library, using the old cases, does not have ledge in the sense of Mr. Soule (15), but ledges are provided between cases under windows, and these, together with the tables, serve the same purpose. In the same way, the Chancellor Green shelves, being of the earlier style, are higher than a man can reach (17) but in the new building throughout the principle is observed. There is shelving for folios and quartos (18) in ever y book room, and flights of stairs are not circular (19), except in the old Library, although they fall short of an entire straight run from floor to floor. Finally, there is complete internal communication (20), by a system of twenty-five telephones.

Practically speaking, therefore, in sixteen points out of twenty the new building as a whole is "technically perfect." In two other points (end windows and reference ledges) there are thoroughly satisfactory substitutes, so that both ends aimed at by the principle—daylight and resting place—are fully gained, and in the case of the ledge gained in a better way. The two remaining point (circular stairs and books out of reach from floors) apply only to Chancellor Green Library, which was built twenty-five years ago, and not to the new library, and are of so little importance in this place that they were not worth changing.

Practically, therefore, the new building regards every point of agreement, while in the building taken as a whole only two out of twenty points fall short and these only by a small fraction of the whole building—say one staircase out of twenty-four—and one percent of shelves.


 Last modified 13-June-2005