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Sharing building space with other academic departments was the norm in the early years of the campus library. In 1868 the campus had "the nucleus of a library" which was housed in a single room in Fernald Hall along with the chemical laboratory. Ezekiel Holmes, a proponent for Maine agriculture, and Abner Coburn, Governor and President of the Board of Trustees, were early benefactors.

By 1888, the library was moved to considerably larger quarters in Coburn Hall which had just been completed. The collection housed in two rooms then consisted of 4,000 volumes which for the first time were catalogued, classified and arranged to make them more readily available to the campus community. In 1890, Miss Harriet Converse Fernald became the first trained librarian at the college as the library headed into a "period of development" as it emerged from a "pioneer period". The need for periodicals for the collection was recognized and by 1896 they numbered 97.

A course in Library Economy was introduced to the curriculum in 1894 and at this time the librarian recommended addressing the lack of literature books. From 1897 to 1905, the collection and usage by students and faculty grew significantly, requiring more space and more staff. Additional accommodations were found in Coburn when the university offices moved to Alumni Hall in 1900. By 1904, however, the continued growth required packing of seldom used materials and lack of shelving space was a critical issue. So it was in 1905 that the gift of $50,000 from Mr. Andrew Carnegie was well timed and led to building the first edifice whose primary purpose was to support library services at the college.

  Coburn Hall
Coburn Hall in the 1880s
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Revised: 11/05/2014
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University of Maine
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The University of Maine
Orono, Maine 04469
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