William S. Dix
The Princeton University Library, like all academic libraries, has been largely shaped by its parent institution. The ways in which
Founded in 1746 by a group of Presbyterians primarily to produce ministers of the gospel, from the beginning the College of New Jersey admitted young men of any religious denomination and gave them background for entering other learned professions as well as the ministry. Although there was never any formal legal association with the church, the college's presidents were Presbyterian ministers or the sons of Presbyterian ministers or missionaries until 1972. Perhaps from this background came a certain caution and thriftiness in outlook which has always been a restraining force on overly rapid growth in numbers or in curriculum. The college's relatively rural location has also helped remove it from pressures to perform the wide variety of services which make up the modem "multiversity."
At the same time it was by no means a country college. Certainly by the end of the vigorous administration of President John Witherspoon in 1794 it had a national reputation. From the students in his term alone were to come a president, a vice-president, 9 cabinet officers, 21
A large and well-sorted Collection of Books n the various Branches of Literature, is the most ornamental and useful Furniture of College, and the most proper and valuable Fund with which it can be endowed. It is one of the beat Helps to enrich the Minds both of the Officers and Students with Knowledge; to give them an extensive Acquaintance with Authors; and to lead them beyond the narrow Limits of the Books to which they are confined in their stated Studies and Recitations, that they may expatiate at large thro’ the boundless and variegated Fields of Science (I)-
Today the preceptorial system of instruction, introduced by President Woodrow Wilson, and the requirement of junior independent work and a substantial senior thesis for almost all undergraduate degrees help pull the library into the center of the educational process. That it is in fact heavily used is indicated by what seems to be the highest circulation rate per student among the major university libraries of the country in spite of the unusual accessibility of books on open stacks and an uncommonly high ratio of study seats in library buildings.
The Governance of the Library
The Professional Library Staff, currently numbering about 90, is an academic rather than an administrative body, separate from but parallel to the Faculty and the Professional Research Staff. The dean of the faculty is responsible for appointments, promotions, and salary administration of all three of these bodies. The present governance was codified in 1968 in the Rules and Procedures of the Professional Library Staff, reflecting some evolution from long-standing practices.
With the formation of the Council of the Princeton University Community in 1969 as a forum for the discussion and resolution of a variety of issues affecting the whole university, the Professional Library Staff became one of its constituent bodies with one elected representative. Members of the Professional Library Staff have been quite active in the council and its committees, including the Priorities Committee, the Committee on Rights and Rules, the Judicial Committee, and the Committee on Relations with the Local Community.
The nonprofessional library staff, the Library Assistants, about 200 in number, are represented on the Council of the Princeton University Community as members of the campuswide Office and Clerical Staff. The personnel administration of the Library Assistants is handled by the university's Office of Personnel Services.
Within the library the staff organization has been a rather traditional hierarchical one but with a substantial amount of staff participation through meetings at various levels and a variety of standing and ad hoc committees. The associate university librarian has served as the library's executive officer with primary responsibility for the internal operations. The seven assistant university librarians head substantive departments and with the associate university librarian form the Librarian's Council, which meets weekly with the librarian to coordinate policy, discuss problems, and exchange information of mutual interest.
The Staff Association, founded in 1942, and open to all library staff members, exists as its constitution says, "to promote the social and economic welfare of its members, to advance their professional interests, and to encourage cooperation in improving the work of the Library." It publishes The Green-Pyne Leaf, a bulletin of information about staff activities. The
The Deployment of the Collections
The library at
In 1873 the Chancellor Green Library,
In the 1920s existing library space began to become crowded again, and various planning activities were undertaken. The ideas of Professor Rufus Morey, chairman of the Department of Art and Archaeology, were particularly influential. Professor Morey, in A Laboratory-Library (1932) proposed that the library provide space for students, teachers, and books, and become a workshop rather than a warehouse (2). While it was not feasible to provide space for all faculty offices and all classrooms in the library, these concepts were not lost as planning proceeded.
Finally, in 1944 President Harold W. Dodds and Julian P. Boyd, the librarian, invited representatives of 15 institutions planning to construct new library buildings when materials became available, to meet in Princeton to share experience and ideas. This group, meeting in various places during the next several years, became the Cooperative Committee on Library Budding Plans and had a major influence in the revolution in academic library architecture which took place at this time.
The Harvey S. Firestone Memorial Library at
It houses, with a few notable exceptions, the university's collections in the humanities and the social sciences, together with the central administrative, ordering, and cataloging functions of the library. Scattered throughout its open stacks are more than 2,000 study seats, about half of them in individually assigned, closed carrels and studies for undergraduate seniors writing theses, graduate students writing dissertations, and more advanced scholars. Almost every department or program which has its major collection in Firestone has a graduate study room w a collection of reference and bibliographic tools and a seminar room for graduate teaching but open for study when seminars are not in session, a somewhat scaled down version of Professor Morey's plans of 1932. There are, of course, in addition the special-purpose areas common to most large research libraries.
The Firestone Library has been highly successful in its flexibility, some interior rearrangements to meet changing needs having been made almost each year since 1948 and four additions having been made outside the original walls. This flexibility has not been achieved at the expense of aesthetics. In most parts of the building a careful choice of materials and colors has maintained a pleasant environment and sometimes a certain elegance.
In the meantime the library was growing in other directions. As new buildings for some individual subject areas were built in the late 1920s and early 30s, handsome library quarters were provided to house growing departmental or subject collections: engineering in Green Hall in 1927, chemistry in the Frick Laboratory in 1929, and mathematics and physics in Fine Hall (now Jones Hall) in 1931. Before that, when McCormick Hall was built in 1922, a library was included to house the collections in art and archaeology.
As of 1975 the following subject collections are located outside the Firestone Library in association with the teaching or laboratory areas of one or more academic departments in space created or substantially enlarged and renovated during the years indicated:
Art and Archaeology (Marquand Library)-new 1965
Biology-completely remodeled and expanded 1971
Chemistry-substantially expanded 1966
Mathematics and Physics (Fine Hall)-new 1968
Plasma Physics-new 1960
Population Research-moved and expanded 1975
Psychology-moved and expanded 1964
Urban and Environmental Studies—new 1963
Each of these libraries is not merely a working collection but is essentially the total collection of the university in its field of specialization. Each is administered by a librarian and appropriate supporting staff under the supervision of one of the assistant university librarians. Each, subject specialist librarian is responsible for book selection and for reference, circulation, and other services; but ordering, cataloging, and other processing activities are carried out centrally in the Firestone Library. These libraries range in size from about 280,000 volumes with 150 study seats (art and archaeology) down to about 5,000 volumes with 20 study seats (plasma physics). In spite of the dangers of fragmentation, it is clear at Princeton that a very high level of library service can be provided by a specialized subject collection located in comfortable quarters in close proximity to the teaching and research areas it serves and directed by a skilled librarian with advanced training in the subject, working daily with the faculty and students in the discipline.
There are other libraries outside the central library which follow a different pattern. In the belief that a separate undergraduate library is an expedient to be applied only when either the collections or the student body become so large that the undergraduate is lost,
The popularity of these two collections was one of the factors which led to the creation within the Firestone Library of a new open-stack reserve reading room in 1974. Some 30,000 volumes can be shelved on open stacks surrounded by almost 200 study seats, all within a controlled area. This collection houses not only regular course reserves in multiple copies but also copies of other books known to be in heavy use, all held for reading in the room or for short-term loan. The resulting core collection seems to be making books easily available which were often difficult to obtain under the long-term loans which prevail in most parts of the library.
Some space studies in the mid-1960s, suggested that the growth possibility of the Firestone building and site is limited to a few decades and that if this admirable building is to remain for the foreseeable future the center of the interactive collections in the humanities and social sciences, continuing study should be given to housing elsewhere any portions of the library which would not suffer by removal from Firestone. As a result three categories of material were identified which could be housed elsewhere without any serious disruption of service: books and bound journals in all fields which the record indicates to have been very seldom used; Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Persian, and Turkish language material, for which the audience is special and identifiable; and large manuscript collections, such as the personal archives of men who have distinguished themselves in public life, and the university archives.
In 1968 the William Watson Smith Library (The Annex Library) was completed on the Forrestal Campus, about 3 miles from the Firestone Library. It now contains about 200,000 volumes, shelved in five size categories on 81/2-foot stacks, 22 inches apart. There is twice-a-day delivery service to the various regular library circulation desks. The storage location of each volume is indicated by a plastic overlay on the complete set of catalog cards in the central card catalog in Firestone and, when appropriate, the catalog of the subject collection from which the volume came, Selection from various parts of the library which are crowded continues, date of publication and record of previous use being the principal criteria. The present building has a capacity of about 600,000 and could be expanded indefinitely. This storage library concept has worked well, perhaps in part because from the beginning it was decided that the regular location record, the public card catalog, should indicate precisely where the book is, and because it was made policy to have the procedure easily reversible and to restore to its original location immediately any volume for which an Annex Library location was questioned by users.
Of the East Asian and Near Eastern language collections, by 1975 all but Arabic had been moved to renovated contiguous areas in Jones and Palmer Halls, recently vacated by mathematics and physics. Departmental offices and classrooms for these linguistic areas are in the same buildings. For linguistic reasons a separate ordering and cataloging operation has always been maintained for East Asian languages.
The third area of planned relief for Firestone space was accomplished when the Seeley G. Mudd Manuscript Library was completed in 1976. Located within five minutes' walk of Firestone, the new building provides secure and handsome quarters for the storage, display, and use of such bulky collections as the papers of Adlai E. Stevenson, the archives of the American Civil Liberties Union, and the official records of
The first major increment to the library of the new College of New Jersey was the gift in 1755 of 474 volumes from Jonathan Belcher, the royal governor of the province, and ever since gifts of books and money to purchase them have played a major part in the growth of the collections. The catalog of 1760 listed 1,281 volumes, and by the end of the century, in spite of the losses sustained in the Revolutionary War, there were about 3,000 volumes. Soon after the disastrous fire of 1802, which destroyed most of these books, the collections had grown again to about 4,000 volumes through the response of generous donors, and by 1827 there were 7,000. Growth was slow then for the next half-century, with the students drawing heavily upon the libraries of the two student literary societies, the American Whig Society and the Cliosopbic Society, which were evidently more accessible and certainly more current than the central library.
In 1868 the collection, numbering only about 14,000 volumes, began to grow more rapidly with the establishment by John C. Green of
In this century the Princeton University Library has shared the rapid growth of its peers, as the following table of its holdings of printed books by decades suggests:
In 1974 its holdings numbered 2,615,000 printed books and 838,000 microform units. It received 30,800 current serials. It stood sixteenth in size among the university libraries of the
Rare books and manuscripts have in general been added to the collections only by gift or through purchases made possible by gift funds. Fortunately,
In the Greek and Latin classics a traditionally strong faculty interest has ensured good working collections, which have been augmented by the Junius S. Morgan Vergil Collection and the Robert W. Patterson Horace Collection. From various sources, but particularly from Robert Garrett, have come one of the half-dozen best collections in this country of Medieval and Renaissance manuscripts. The English literature collections are generally good, with particular strength in the latter half of the 19th century with the combined resources of the Morris L. Parrish Collection of Victorian Novelists, the Rossetti Collection of Janet Camp Troxell, the J. Harlin O'Connell Nineties Collection, the Gallatin Beardsley Collection, and the Miers Collection of Cruikshank, in particular. In American literature the publishing archives of Charles Scribner's Sons and of Henry Holt offer a wealth of primary material, as do the files and papers of writers as diverse as Booth Tarkington F. Scott Fitzgerald, Philip Wylie, and Allen Tate. Continental literature is probably less strong, but the published writings of French writers of the 17th, 18th, and 19th centuries are well represented in original editions, and the Caroline Newton Thomas Mann Collection is one of the strongest in
American and European history are generally strong, with the Grenville Kane Collection's riches in early voyages and colonization reinforcing the standard works of the 15th and 16th centuries. The Philip A. Rollins Collection of Western Americana and the John S. Pierson Civil War Collection are excellent, and most of the major political and military figures of the 18th and 19th centuries are represented in some depth in the Andre de Coppet Collection of American Historical Manuscripts. A major resource for the 20th century may be found in the personal papers and files of many men who have distinguished themselves in public life. Among them are John Foster Dulles, Adlai E. Stevenson, James V. Forrestal, Allen W. Dulles, Bernard Baruch, John Marshall Harlan, George Kerman, and David E. Lilienthal.
The Marquand Art Library is a major research collection in art history, being particularly strong in early Christian art, an area stimulated by the presence at
With all of these strengths, the Princeton University Library makes no attempt to be strong in all fields. While it is strong in constitutional theory and jurisprudence, it has no law library. It acquires research materials in biochemistry, but it has no medical library. It makes no attempt to cover comprehensively the proliferating literature of a host of applied fields such as forestry, nursing, agriculture, education, or business administration.
Two great private collections, on indefinite deposit, occupy their own rooms in the Firestone Library and through the generosity of their owners are accessible to scholars, with their books listed in the public card catalog of the University Library. The Scheide Library is unusually rich in the greatest, examples of early printing and other landmarks of cultural history, while the Collection of Robert H. Taylor covers in books and manuscripts the whole sweep of English literature.
The social and natural sciences gain their library strength less through scarce or unique books and manuscripts than through the breadth of their holdings of books and journals. The Fine Hall Library of mathematics and statistics has an international reputation, and
Responsibility for the development of the collections is delegated by the librarian to the assistant university librarian for acquisitions, along with the control and allocation of the funds available each year for acquisitions. The university's investment pool holds more than 200 endowed funds with a book value of about $12 million dedicated to the library. The annual income from these funds plus gifts and grants received during the year covers about one-half of the annual ex-penditure for acquisitions, which totaled $1,633,000 in t973-74. Just 25 years earlier expenditures for the same purpose were less than $118,000. The change is the product of the growth of new fields of study, of the growth of world book publishing, and of inflation far in excess of the general commodity index.
About 40 members of the library staff are engaged in book selection under the general coordination of the assistant university librarian for acquisitions. Some of these librarians are scholarly bibliographers, who combine book selection with advanced reference work, while others have the broader responsibilities of managing special subject collections. Most of them work closely with members of the faculty, often with departmental representatives or committees. Most book selection in most fields is done by these staff members, but faculty and student recommendations are encouraged and in a few subjects most selection is still done by faculty members.
The development of the collections at
Although continuing attempts have been made through the years to build up these rich collections of books and manuscripts, parallel attempts have been made to avoid unnecessary expenditures by sharing other sorts of resources with other institutions as much as possible. In 1910 Librarian Ernest Cushing Richardson wrote: "If this matter of co-operation could be organized systematically, it is within bounds to say that it might reduce by one-half the financial problem in equipping
Julian P. Boyd, librarian from 1938 to 195 1, stated clearly in a 1940 memorandum the concept which is now central to library thinking of the mid-1970s: "The fallacy of an impossible completeness in any one library should be abandoned in theory and practice; librarians should now think in terms of 'completeness' for the library resources of the whole country." Soon after this he was one of the founders of the Farmington Plan.
His successor at
The Princeton University Library's long history of interest in library cooperation and the sharing of resources continues. Richard Boss, who became librarian of
The Friends of the Princeton University Library, organized in 1930 and with a membership of about 1,300 in 1975, has been active in stimulating an interest in the library and the growth of its collections. This organization sponsors the publication of The Princeton University Library Chronicle, which is received in most of the major libraries of the world and makes known and interprets the resources of the Princeton University Library. A series of occasional monographs, also sponsored by the Friends, makes available unique or scarce items from the collections of the library.
Exhibits in a number of parts of the library, both in Firestone and the special subject collections, are designed to make known the resources of the library. While these exhibits are usually topical in nature, they afford an opportunity to call to the attention of the academic community the great variety of materials, particularly rare books and manuscripts usually not seen, which the Princeton library can bring to bear on the particular subject.
In interpreting the collections to students and scholars, the library makes use of the knowledge of a number of staff specialists. In addition to the heads of the various subject collections outside Firestone, there are within the central building a number of curators and bibliographers. The
Major collections and comfortable and convenient buildings are important elements of a great library, but the essential third element is a staff with the skill, the scholarship, and the desire to build, organize, and interpret a library in support of teaching and research.
1. A Catalogue of Books in the Library of the
2. Charles Rufus Morey, a Laboratory-Library, privately printed,
3. The Julian Street Library: A Preliminary List of Titles, compiled by Warren B. Kuhn,
4. William J. Baumol and Matityahu Marcus, Economics of Academic Libraries, American Council on Education,
5. Dictionary Catalog of the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory Library, G. K. Hall, Boston, 1970-, 4 vols., plus supplements.