'Ask Us Anything' exhibit explores history of Ezra Lehman Memorial Library
‘Ask Us Anything’: 50 Years at Ezra Lehman Memorial Library, opening this week on the second floor of the library, celebrates the 50th anniversary of the library during the 2017-2018 academic year. The exhibit, featuring artifacts and photos from Shippensburg University Archives & Special Collections, traces the history of libraries on campus, the decision to build the new library, and the present library building. Also featured are images of the library as it appeared in 1968 compared to today.
In September of 1967, Shippensburg State College (SSC) students returning to classes were greeted by the hum of construction vehicles moving earth near the center of campus. Construction was nothing new, SSC was in the middle of explosive growth thanks to rapidly rising enrollments. But the building rising during the fall 1967 was to affect the campus for generations. The new Ezra Lehman Memorial Library was well under way.
The new building, a modular-style, three-floor space, dramatically increased the capacity of this campus resource. Since 1931, the library had been in what is today Huber Arts Center. That building, too, was purpose built for books and studying. Consisting of three floors, it had balconies, more than 100,000 books, and study space for students, but it wasn’t enough.
In 1961, librarian Alma Winton joined others on campus to form a committee to update the library. At first, the plan was to expand the existing library. However, that spring, the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania announced Shippensburg would be one of five schools across the system to receive up to $2 million to build new libraries to accommodate expanding enrollment and the need to update to national library standards.
The groundbreaking was held in August 1966, and by September 1967, the new library was under roof and contractors worked on finishing touches. By December, Winton and her staff had control of the space and began filling it with shelves and furniture. In May 1968, the campus community came together for a Book Walk to transport nearly 75,000 volumes from the old library to the new, and the new Ezra Lehman Memorial Library opened as the 1967-1968 school year closed.
The exhibit is free to view and is located just outside the stairwell on the second floor. For more information, contact Archives & Special Collections via email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone: 717-477-1123 (x3357).