Moveable Feast Takes Participants on Tour of Rollins' Libraries

November 11, 2010

Mills Memorial Library

During the hustle of the many events associated with the 125th Anniversary, a small group took time to slow down and reflect on the humble beginnings of the College’s library. When Rollins opened in 1885, the only books in its collection were a bible and a dictionary. Today, the Olin Library houses over 300,000 print volumes, not to mention tens of thousands of digital resources.

Olin Library Director Jonathan Miller led the ‘Moveable Feast’ walking tour across the campus to various sites that have housed the College’s collection at one time or another. “[It’s] a tour of Rollins libraries at Rollins through history…and maybe a few minutes of what the future might be,” said Miller.

Since its founding 125 years ago, Rollins has had no less than eight locations for its library. It started out in White’s store on Park Avenue then moved on campus into the Day Library building. In 1892, its new home was in Knowles Hall where students could only check out books between one and one-thirty in the afternoon four days a week.

The books moved to Pinehurst just in time. Knowles Hall burned to the ground and almost brought Rollins down with it. From there, a balcony in the Lyman Gym (present day site of Chase Hall) housed the collection until the College constructed its first purpose built library, Carnegie Hall. It was during this time that Hamilton Holt had roughly 1,000 volumes removed from the library and transferred to shelf-lined classrooms as part of his conference plan approach.

Several of the alumni on the tour recalled fond memories of the more recent Mills Memorial Library. But by 1985, their little library could not handle the blossoming number of volumes and the Olin Library came into being. Its 1998 addition for IT and the College archives brought the tour full circle back to the present.

But Miller had promised the alumni and parents a glimpse into the possible future and he delivered. “The library is going to be accessible wherever you need it to be… [and it will be] a hybrid of print and digital,” said Miller.

By Jennifer Ritter (Class of 2013)

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