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Memorial Library

Memorial Library

Memorial Library

March of 1959 saw the completion of the Memorial Library.  It was “...dedicated to the men and women of the college who served our country in the wars of the Twentieth Century.” When the library opened its doors it seated 250, and held a collection of over 65,000 volumes, and an expanded periodical collection.  It also housed a collection of historical maps, books, and pamphlets on North Dakota.


Memorial Library from former President Lura's Office

Memorial library, as viewed from President Casper Lura's office in Main

The job of constructing library was awarded to a company making a bid of $279,695, which was reported in The Red and Green as much lower than the state appropriation of $400,000.  However, “Lower bids DO NOT mean that salary increases will be given!” the school paper reported. This was the first time in MSTC history that the library was given a dedicated space.  Offices were also made available for the cataloger, circulation staff, and the librarian, as well as work rooms for staff and janitorial services.

“When asked for an overall comment, Miss Swanson replied, ‘It’s wonderful to have space and to know that all who come to the library to study can be seated.’”

Memorial Library served the school for many years, and during its existence, never stopped growing. By 1976 the library held over 100,000 volumes, 1,400 periodicals, and could seat 300 students.  By this time, the school had changed its name to Minot State College (MSC). Yet as time passed, expansion became necessary again. As the number of volumes in the library increased, the number of available seats declined.  By 1988 the library held 243,000 volumes, while the seating accommodated only 120 students. This was the same year in which the school catalog boasted the institution's current name, Minot State University (MSU).

Unknown Student Searching Catalogs in Memorial Library

Before online databases, the card catalog was the means by which students searched for library holdings

As the 1990s went on, the library progressed not only in books, but in technology as well.  It housed 261,596 volumes but had also gained access to over 280 databases with information on science, technology, business, medicine, social sciences, current affairs, and humanities.  Many of the multiple databases were sponsored by the Educational Resource Information Center (ERIC), which has access to more than 700 educational journals and research reports on a variety of fields.

MSU was truly becoming an institution offering diverse fields of study, and the library embodied this shift. Yet the library had to make one more move to represent that shift, and the planning began in 1969, when student enrollment began to dwarf Memorial Library. This phenomenon was not an isolated incident as enrollment numbers around the country were growing due to the generation of baby boomers coming of age. An1987 MSU Self-Study stated that "General seating for students is also seriously limited. Memorial Library has only 3% of the minimum study space recommended by the American Library Association. The crowded conditions frustrate students seeking a quiet study area."  It was during this time that long-time President Dr. Gordon B. Olson lobbied for a new library building, along with various other additions to the campus completed during his presidency.