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Middleton Library celebrates 50th Anniversary

Posted in Exhibitions
Middleton Library, c. 1960, illustration by Ben Looney.

Middleton Library, c. 1960, illustration by Ben Looney.

The LSU community celebrated the dedication of a new library on October 23, 1959.  To help mark the anniversary of this momentous occasion, LSU Libraries Special Collections has mounted  the mini-exhibition Troy H. Middleton Library: 50 Years of Service to LSU, now on display in Hill Memorial Library’s lecture hall.  The exhibition features the architects’ rendering, images of the library’s construction, and a pen and ink drawing of the completed library.  Also included are a narrative and photographs on the life of Troy H. Middleton for whom the library was renamed in 1979, and a brief history of technological change in the library.

Constructed  between April 1956 and August 1958, the LSU Library was designed by the architectural firm Bodman, Murrell & Smith and opened in September 1958.  According to a contemporary press release, the new library contained enough steel to build 1600 cars and enough concrete to build a three-foot-wide sidewalk from Baton Rouge to New Orleans.  Images on display give a glimpse at various phases of construction, from reinforcing the foundation to erecting the steel skeleton to assembling the stacks.  A pen-and-ink drawing by Ben Earl Looney shows the exterior of the completed structure, ca. 1960.

Troy H. Middleton became almost synonymous with LSU during his service to the University.  As a major in the U.S. Army, Middleton arrived on campus in 1930 to become commandant of ROTC cadets.  Middleton also served as assistant vice president of the University in the wake of the “University Scandals” in 1939 and comptroller until the end of 1941.  During the Second World War, Middleton ably served as a division and corps commander in the invasion of Sicily and Italy in 1943, the post-D-Day thrust through France and Belgium, in 1944, and as defender of Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge in 1944-1945.  Middleton returned to service at LSU after the war as comptroller and in 1951, the Board of Supervisors elected him president of the University, an office he held until 1962. It was largely through Middleton’s efforts that the new library became a reality.  The library was officially named the Troy H. Middleton Library in 1979 after Middleton’s death.

Technological change in the library—covering the  evolution of both search techniques and material format—is illustrated in the display as well.  B. F. French’s five-volume Historical Collections of Louisiana is used to show the transitions from  card catalog to online catalog,  and from printed volumes to microfiche to CD-ROM and finally to web-only resources.

The exhibition runs through December 23, 2009.

More activities and exhibitions commemorating the 50th anniversary of the library’s dedication are taking place in Middleton Library. Visit http://www.lib.lsu.edu for details.

Exhibitions Coordinator, LSU Libraries Special Collections http://exhibitions.blogs.lib.lsu.edu

Posted in Exhibitions

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