The first reference to the library was in the SPC Faculty minutes dated November 1, 1867 which stated that a faculty meeting was held at the College Library. However, the library was officially established as an entity in 1870 as a result of the enthusiasm of Professor Porter, who joined the faculty as chair of the history department, four years after instruction had started. The Library’s development was very slow during the early years. Yet, by 1882, Professor Porter had built up a collection of about 2,300 volumes.
From the time College Hall was built, the
Library occupied a large room in the northeast corner of the ground
floor which has since been converted into two classrooms. Students and
faculty profited by being able to use the Library of the Theological
School which was at that time located in Jesup Hall. In 1891, when Jesup
Hall was given up as the home of the Theological School, a proposal was
made that the Libraries be amalgamated. This was not done, although for
a period of about ten years the Theological School library was housed
in the same room and administered by the A.U.B. Library staff. Also in
1891, for the first time, Professor Porter had an assistant.
Shukry Maloof was assistant librarian from 1891-1900, and although
Professor Porter remained responsible for the Library he took less of an
active part in the work. This decade was also the first period of real
growth of the collection. In 1891 the Library numbered 3,000 books and
by 1903 the number was almost 15,000, a fairly rapid increase.
the year 1891 the present Chapel was opened and the Library was moved
to more spacious quarters in the former assembly hall on the second
floor of College Hall at the east end of the building. The library
remained in this location until 1951 when the collections were moved to
the Jafet Memorial Library building.
In 1891 the
Library room on the second floor of the College Hall was divided into
thirds. The north third was stack space for books, the center third was
reading room, the south third was the University herbarium. The physical
expansion of the Library was slow but steady after the move to the
second floor of College Hall. On the completion of Post Hall the
herbarium was moved to that building and the entire remaining space was
devoted to the Library.
By 1910 the room directly opposite
the top of the stairs was used as an office. It contained the
circulation desk at the time the Library was finally moved out of
College Hall in 1951. Every two or three years after that, another room
was added until by 1926 there was no remaining space on that floor for
student dormitories. The Library stacks were removed from the north end
of the original room to the corridor, making the entire large room
available as a reading room. At this time the statue of Daniel Bliss,
which is now (1952) at the south end of the main reading room in Jafet
Library, stood at the south end of the Library reading room.
the Second World War the continued growth of the Library made it
necessary once again to take back a part of the reading room as stack
space. At this time the Bliss statue was moved to the north end of the
room and the stacks were placed along the south. Student study space was
fighting a losing battle against the encroaching tide of books. Such
was the physical situation of the Library when it was moved in the fall
In 1901 Shukry Maloof was replaced as Assistant
Librarian by Shukry Kassab, who remained until 1909. In 1910, Professor
Porter gave up the librarianship, after holding it for 40 years, to
devote his full time to teaching, and Charles R. Carhart became
Librarian. In 1911 Mulhim Bitar, who was still a member of the Library
staff (1952), joined Mr. Carhart as Assistant Librarian. Mr. Carhart was
replaced in 1913 by Ida R. Burtnett who remained only for two years,
leaving Mr. Bitar as Acting Librarian during the years of the First
Growth of the book collections was very slow
during the fifteen year period preceding the end of the First World War,
and by 1918 the collections numbered only 18,000 volumes. Mrs. Emma R.
Nickoley became the Librarian in 1919. Since that time the growth of the
collections has been both steady and rapid. By 1932 there were 39,000
volumes and seven years later, in 1939, this figure had reached almost
68,000. It is now (1952) approximately 80,000. Mrs. Nickoley was
replaced as Librarian in 1926 by Mrs. Edith Laird who served in that
capacity until the move to the Jafet Library building in 1951, when
David Wilder was appointed University Librarian. Mrs. Laird remained on
the staff in charge of the library cataloging work.
1925, books in the field of medicine were moved to a branch library in
Van Dyck Hall and Miss Burtnett returned to the University to serve from
1925 to 1931 as Medical Librarian. She was replaced by Lela Crump from
1931 to 1933 and she in turn by Mrs. Anne Ayvaz who then returned to
service on the staff of the University Library. The medical
librarianship had been held since 1940 by Mrs. Araxie Sarrafian.
1932, a Branch Library was set-up in the Preparatory School. The first
Librarian was Mr. Munir Sadah, then Mrs. Melia Kan’an. Prior to the
opening of the Jafet Library it had also been necessary to set up in
West Hall a Branch Library for the Intermediate Section.
the years, development of the library book collection to its present
level (1952) has been made possible by many gifts similar to that given
over a number of years by the late Mrs. Cleveland Dodge. Several early
members of the faculty were generous with books and magazines which they
had collected. It is astonishing to see the number of books donated by
Porter for example. In the early 1930’s, $ 6,000 was received from the
Carnegie Foundation to buy books in all areas of study which did much to
fill the basic needs of the Library. In 1933, the Arab Studies
collection in the Library was enriched by the addition of several
thousand volumes bequeathed to the University by one of its
distinguished Alumni and friends, the late Mr. Sulayman Abu Izz-ed-Din.
the death of Edward F. Nickoley in 1936, his wife presented his fine
library to the Univer- sity to strengthen the social sciences. With Mrs.
Nickoley’s kind permission the “Nickoley Library”, which was formerly
housed separately in the Social Science Building, was incorporated in
the central collection in the Jafet Memorial Library.
was also a rapid development of the field of Arab Studies through the
generosity of the Rockefeller Foundation. Until 1952 this growing and
valuable collection of books had not had adequate space in which to be
housed or used. The magnificent gift, therefore, of a new building by
the wife and children of Nami Jafet, did much to make possible the
preservation, expansion and use of there valuable collections.