The 1857 Normal School Act states, "each school shall contain a library room, for the accumulation of books and for the full use of the students." Since Edinboro received accreditation as a Normal School in 1861, it is reasonable to believe that a library existed at that time. In his book on Edinboro, Russell E. Vance Jr., writes that the original library was comprised of books from Professor Cooper's library, for which the trustees paid $137.14. In 1861, the trustee's appropriated a total of $500 for library acquisitions. By 1866, there existed four "libraries" (as the school catalogs name them), a general circulatory library, a reference library, a Sunday school library, and a textbook library. At this early date, it appears that the library occupied only one room in Academy Hall. The term, "libraries" probably refers only to different collections, not libraries separated by walls.
The 1878-79 catalog gives the first reference to a librarian, though it gives no name. The next catalog writes that Miss Emma McWilliams is the librarian. Miss McWilliams had been an arithmetic teacher. Clara McCoy succeeded McWilliams the following year. At this time, the collection was organized into fourteen categories; 1) Works of reference, 2) Works upon teaching, 3) Periodical Literature, 4) Biography, 5) Travel, 6) History, 7) General Literature, 8) Science, 9) Poetry, 10) Fiction, 11) Mental Science, 12) Social and Political Economy, 13) Agriculture and the Arts, 14) Miscellaneous. Having begun as librarian in 1880-81, Clara McCoy does not appear in the 1892-93 catalog which lists the position as "to be supplied." This is the year Principal Joseph Cooper was fired and an exodus of student and faculty resulted. Frances E. Adams is appointed in 1893-94 and is succeeded the next year by William Most. It is then, 1895, that the Dewey Decimal System is first mentioned.
The introduction of this system would mean an end to the previous arrangement of fourteen categories. Miss Annie L. Wilson, who had been the school's secretary, became the librarian in 1902. Miss Wilson was still the librarian, in 1914 when, for the first time, a division is made between "officers of the school" and faculty. Miss Wilson is listed under both categories. Miss Wilson is named as librarian until the 1923-24 catalog when Ivan Case is named librarian. This is also the year that Mildred Forness appears in the catalog. Justina Baron appears as an assistant librarian in 1925. Two years later she moved to the Erie branch to become the librarian.
In 1927-28, Donna E. Sullivan becomes the librarian. Miss Forness takes over head librarian responsibilities in 1929 and continues until the Summer of 1967 when Hwa-Wei Lee assumes the head librarian job. Mr. Lee's tenure ended in 1969 when Saul Weinstein took over as acting head librarian, eventually to reign until Summer 1991. Barbara Grippe and John Flemming succeeded Weinstein as acting co-directors. This lasted until November 1991. Barbara Grippe then assumed sole responsibility as acting director. Dr. Donald Dilmore came to Edinboro from the University of Massachusetts at Lowell. He became the director in May of 1992. In the Summer of 1994, the title Director of Libraries was changed to Assistant Vice President for Libraries.
Librarian Status Beginning in 1914, the school catalogs began to classify employees as faculty and "officers of the school." From that time to the present, classification of librarians has changed several times. In 1919, the position of librarian is listed as both "officer" and "faculty." The college again changes the way it classifies its employees in 1929 by using the heading "faculty - administration" and "college faculty." Librarians are listed under "college faculty." From 1934 to 1940 there is a shifting status between administration and a hybrid classification of both administration and faculty. This flip-flopping continues until 1950, except for 1940-41. In this year they are given the heading "non-instructional staff." From 1950-1962, librarians are only categorized as faculty. In 1962 there is a short lived classification of "library staff", falling neither under faculty or administration. This was not seen after 1964. From this point to the present, the head librarian, Director, or Assistant Vice President for Libraries is listed with the administration and the librarians are given faculty status.
Location History The earliest reference to a library location is found in the Pennsylvania School Journal, January 1862. Here, Academy hall is described as having 3 rooms on each floor. One of those rooms on the first floor was reserved for "Library and Apparatus." In 1880, the library moved to Assembly Hall, then renamed Library Hall. It occupied the second floor, a room 42' x 64'. This is also the year Academy Hall was moved from Meadville Street to its present location. Six years later the Normal Guards were formed. This student military group maintained an armory on the first floor of the Library Hall. Another move occurred in 1890. This change of address took the library to what was then known as "the new building." We now know this as Normal Hall. Upon leaving, Library Hall changed its name to Examination Hall. The new library room in Normal Hall was only slightly larger than before, 50' x 65' x 16'. The library stayed in Normal Hall until 1961 when it moved into the George E. Hamilton Library. This building unlike the others, was built specifically to house only a library. The designed capacity was for 100,000 books. Only 16 years later, the library was found to be undersized and another library was opened, the Baron-Forness Library.
Named after Mildred Forness and Justina Baron, librarians at Edinboro, this seven story structure is still being used as a library. This completes the route of the main library. There is another library of Edinboro University that has served the Model School and student teachers. Until 1940, the Model School was in close proximity to the main library. It is probable that the Model School was served by the main library. The 1940 college catalog reports that the Laboratory School had moved form Normal Hall, where the library was, to a new building on Normal Street, Compton Hall. By 1945, the college catalogs began referring to branch libraries. "Located in the Training School and Loveland Hall to administer the specific needs of these groups." At this time, Loveland housed the Art and Science Departments. Reference to these 2 libraries is last found in the 1957-58 catalog. While there is no further reference to the library in Loveland, the Model School, or Laboratory School as it is sometimes called, maintained its library while moving to the Miller Research-Learning Center. This occurred in 1971 and remained there until the Miller School closed in 2003. The Erie branch of Edinboro Normal School, was opened in 1921, closed in 1931. This branch had a library that was headed by Justina Baron. For a time, there were 2 branch campuses, one in Warren PA, the other in Farell PA. At the Shenango Campus in Farell, the library "consisted of one shelf of books" in Hickory Township High School. By 1965, this collection grew to 1,500 books and occupied a storage closet. By 1971, the library grew to 10,000 volumes, occupying space on the second floor. At the Warren campus, the library occupied space on one of the upper floors of the downtown building. When the school moved to the renovated Farm Colony of Warren State Hospital, it occupied a portion of the second floor. The circulation desk from this library is now serves as one librarians desk.
Note written by Dave Obringer