Alderman to celebrate 75th anniversary
Librarians, historians reflect on community significance of the library
Students, faculty and community members will gather at the University Wednesday to celebrate Alderman Library’s 75th anniversary.
University leaders, including University History Officer Sandy Gilliam, Dean of Libraries Karin Wittenborg, Dean of Students Allen W. Groves, are poised to speak at the Alderman Library 75th Anniversary celebration next Wednesday.
“We’re really excited about the birthday party coming up,” said Barbie Selby, the Manager of Research and Services at the Alderman Library. “The Library Council have been the ones to organize this event. It really is a student-led celebration.”
The cause for celebration provides an opportunity for reflection on the history of the Alderman Library and its integral place within the University community.
“The Rotunda was the library before Alderman was put in place in 1938. The Rotunda was getting overwhelmed with books and the Alderman Library was put in place,” said Brian Clevenger, a Research Advisor who earned the Distinguished Service Award from the U.Va. Alumni Association in 2006 after having worked in several different positions since 1980.
“In the 1950s, [the University] expanded [Alderman] dramatically,” he said. “They built up from the ground a new section. The original library was built and there was only the old stacks. They added the new stacks [with the expansion].”
Nuances of the Library’s construction in 1938 symbolized some of the broader concerns of the nation at the time.
“The original cost was under one million and was partially financed by a grant from the federal government’s Public Works Administration,” Dean Karen Wittenborg said in an email.
The Public Works Administration (PWA) is an agency that was part of Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s New Deal in 1933. It was put in place to help slow down skyrocketing unemployment rates and revive the economy during the Great Depression.
Today, the Alderman Library provides students with both a study location and and an abundant supply of literary resources.
“It’s a prominent feature of central Grounds,” Wittenborg said. “Every student uses our resources, whether in person or online, and Alderman itself gets more than 730,000 visits per year.”
Alderman holds an estimated 3 million books, all of which are mostly in the humanities and social sciences, according to Wittenborg.
“We are planning an Alderman Renewal Project to create better spaces for students, faculty, staff and others,” she said. “We have had preliminary meetings on this and it is a great opportunity.”
The Alderman Library 75th anniversary celebration will be held October 16th at 4 pm in the Harrison Institute and Small Collections Auditorium.