Page from the Past

June 24, 2013

50 Years Ago, Westminster's Montgomery Library was finished

On March 20th, 1963, Westminster students took the day off from classes to help move over 38,000 books into the newly built Montgomery Library. In this article from the April 1963 Bulletin of Westminster Theological Seminary, librarian Arthur Kuschke described the moving day. See below for the full article.

The Montgomery Library has served the Westminster community well for over 50 years. The library has grown its collection from 38,000 (mentioned in the article) to approximately 168,000 volumes. Needless to say, the shelves are at capacity and beyond! The library staff continues to navigate the space issues caused by a 50-year-old building.

Bulletin of Westminster Theological Seminary
April 1963

“New Library Building in Operation” by Arthur W. Kuschke, Jr.

Moving Day, March 20, was a happy occasion not only as a milestone in the history of the Seminary but also because of the fine spirit of cooperation on the part of the student body, as they carried 38,000 books and large quantities of furniture from the old building to the new.

The Lauter Construction Company has brought their work on the interior of the building to the place where we could move. On Monday, March 18, the Estey Company finished installing the metal book stacks.  Two hundred of the cartons in which the shelves had been shipped were ready for carrying books. The Faculty had acted to suspend classes on Wednesday, March 20, so as to have full participation in the task. The corps of student supervisors had rehearsed their roles. We watched the weather reports.

Moving Day was cloudy, but since no rain was coming down, work began at 8:30 a.m. We were joined by 14 students of the Reformed Episcopal Seminary, who were most generously excused from their classes to help us. Soon the supervisors were placing books in cartons, and the lines began to move into the new building, where other supervisors transferred the books to their designated sections. Four systems (Red, White, Blue, and Yellow) operated concurrently, with the efficient help of traffic directors. At the same time a fifth group proceeded with the transfer of furniture. Streams of burden bearers entered the front door of the new library while other streams emerged from the rear door with empty cartons to return for fresh loads.

After a coffee break in the morning and lunch at noon it became apparent that the whole job could be completed by three in the afternoon. At that hour the ladies of the Faculty had graciously prepared a splendid collection of freshly baked cakes, with coffee, and these refreshments were thoroughly enjoyed by all. After the cake and coffee the skies opened and the rain started to fall, but the work was done and the new library building was already in full operation, with tables and chairs and all books and catalogues in their places.

Two days later about 100 alumni and guests toured the new library on Homecoming Day.

It was not until Monday, April 1, that the most important shipment of new furniture arrived. This included 14 large reading tables and 18 carrels, as well as other furniture, specially designed for our needs. Again the generous help of students was enlisted to carry these large pieces into the building.  Of the furniture ordered, only two other large shipments have yet to come: these will be our card catalogue cases and reference tables.

The new reading tables and carrels are a pleasure to all. The tables are 8 feet by 4 feet, designed for four readers, of oil walnut finish over steel frames. This generous size and style is new for libraries, and so far as we know no other library has tables just like these. Yet they have been obtained very economically. They are suited for our needs as a graduate school; at Westminster the students characteristically spread out many books and papers as they work. The friends of the Seminary will be pleased to see these fine tables when they visit the library.

The new carrels are especially popular. “Carrels” are desks for individual study. These also were specially designed and constructed for us, at low cost. The tops measure 4 feet across, and 30 inches deep, while the oil walnut back rises 18 inches, for two rows of books. The rest of the construction is of steel frame with Formica top. Some carrels are assigned to graduate students who are writing dissertations, but any one may use a carrel which is not occupied. Since there are six carrels on each of the three floors all students have the opportunity to use them. Book lockers in the stacks, adjacent to the carrels, are convenient for those who engage in prolonged research.

These new tables and carrels replace our old furniture which is already in new service in other parts of the building, so that we have seating for 110 persons, both faculty and students.

All the friends of the Seminary are invited to visit the new library building at their convenience. It is expected that the furnishings yet to be installed will have been delivered by the time of the dedication service on Commencement Day.