Some years ago the archivist did a series for the library newsletter on the history of the library itself, and it seemed appropriate in this 175th year of the college’s history to revisit that series.
In the early days, Brockport was a “Collegiate Institute,” or a sort of cross between a modern high school and four year college. The curriculum had several areas of interest, including teacher training, classical education and more modern studies of science and contemporary languages.
In those days the school and the library were smaller. There was just the one building, which stood where Hartwell Hall is now, and the library was a set of rooms in the building. (This was true for many years: the first building dedicated for library was Drake I, what is today Rakov, built in 1961.)
The library in the early days had a small collection, and in addition to books and a few periodical subscriptions it housed the “philosophical apparatus,” or the modest lab equipment of the day.
In those years the library was overseen by the principal, or one of the faculty. The earliest record we have for the collection is an accession book from 1853 which lists some 600 books, about 40 or so periodical subscriptions and the “apparatus.” We still have a few of those books today in a rare book collection, for example the one whose book plate is shown here, Lincoln’s Lectures on Botany from 1835. If you look closely at the book plate you will see the limited hours the library was open then, nothing like the library of today!