The Centennial Library Exhibit
Library artifacts from Messiah’s early history on display at Murray Library
A historical collection of books is on display throughout the Centennial year in the Murray Library at Messiah College. The display features over 200 books and artifacts from the library’s past. Many of the books were donated by early college leaders such as presidents S. R. Smith and Enos Hess. Some of the titles include “Heroic Personalities,” “Fragments of Science,” “Integrity of Scripture,” and the Encyclopedia of American Agriculture. Also, there is a picture and a collection of donated books from the College’s very first librarian, Clara Hoffman. Among the artifacts in the display is a card cataloging system, a glue pot for inserting library information into the books, and an electric eraser used to erase typing errors in the card catalog.
Though the shelves of Murray Library are currently filled with more than 300,000 books and thousands of DVDs, Messiah’s first library, which was located in founder S. R. Smith’s house in Harrisburg where the school first began, was not nearly as large. When the school was relocated to Grantham, the library was housed in Old Main where there were two rooms, one for designated for reading and the other for storing the books. It wasn’t until 1958 that the library moved to its current physical location on campus and secured its own designated building.
Along with the growth of the facility itself, came the growth of the library’s collection. In 1914 the library’s collection numbered only between 300-400 books. But by 1958, accommodated by the library’s new and larger facility, that number increased significantly to 48,000 books. At that time, all of the books were shelved where the current periodical section in Murray Library is located, and the periodicals were located in the basement. Then, in 1977 the College expanded the library’s physical space even more, accommodating the growth to the library’s current collection of 300,000 books.
The artifacts now on display at the library show just some of the ways that Murray Library has been involved in instilling Messiah’s vision of character, intellect, and Christian faith throughout the College’s heritage. Books donated by early campus leaders provided a wealth of information to students looking to further their scholastic careers and grow in their relationship with Christ. The display is open for view starting September 1 through the end of the Centennial year in May 2010 during regular library hours: Monday-Thursday 7:30 a.m. to midnight; Friday 7:30 a.m. to 6:00 p.m.; Saturday 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; and Sunday 2:00 p.m. to midnight.
Little known facts about Murray Library:
- In 1948 the library’s budget was $2,490. In 2008 it was approximately $338,000.
- Messiah faculty members continue to follow in their predecessors’ footsteps by donating books to the library.
- The library’s first online catalog was launched in 1990; computer stations added to library in place of card catalog.
- In 1991, the library added Internet access (just text/words; no graphics).
- In 1997, the library moved to using Windows and World Wide Web interface.
- In 1997, the library launched its first databases that included the full text of periodical articles.