Beyond the Sesquicentennial 2003-Present
George A. Smathers Libraries History

The university and library sesquicentennial was celebrated during 2003 as the library holdings reached four million volumes. Library West closed at the end of the semester in December 2003 for construction and remained closed during 2004-2006 with most of the public services shifted to the Marston Science Library. It reopened on August 2, 2006 and was dedicated on January 26, 2007. Electronic resources steadily overtook print (in 2002 some titles long available only in print and recently in both print and electronic became available only in electronic and/or the print versions were dropped) and the future of information resources began to unfold. The Map & Imagery Library celebrated the acquisition of its 500,000th map in 2005. An Institutional Repository was established in July 2006. Carl Van Ness, UF Archivist, was appointed UF Historian in 2006, replacing Dr. Sam Proctor (the first UF Historian). The Documents Department celebrated 100 years as a federal depository in August 2007 and the Digital Library Center digitized its one millionth page in September 2007.

A great many of our librarians have approached retirement and this will have a profound effect on the libraries over the next decade, as will the continuing electronic resources revolution. In addition, Dale Canelas, our longest serving Director of University Libraries, will retire January 31, 2007 after 22 years of service. Deputy Director John Ingram became Interim Director February 1, 2007 and served until the Dean of University Libraries, Judith Russell, began May 1, 2007. With the opening of Library West another shift of collections and staff have been made, but not enough to alleviate our materials space problems (for this a newly acquired building, once again near the Gainesville airport, has been turned over to the libraries for storage space). New academic programs continue to be added and graduate studies are once again receiving increased attention.

In 2012 the Panama Canal Museum in Seminole, Florida closed and transferred its collection to the Smathers Libraries to become the Panama Canal Museum Collection. In 2014 the five millionth volume was added and the Judaica Suite, designed by world-renowned architect and artist Kenneth Treister was officially opened in Smathers Library. In 2017 the Albert H. Nahmad Panama Canal Gallery opened in Smathers LIbrary to showcase items from the Panama Canal Museum Collection.

As in the past, the libraries will evolve to meet the expectations demanded by these changes and by the expectations of the profession in general. Other than this modest prediction, no others will be attempted. One can hardly even imagine what the libraries will be like 150 years from now, for they have changed unimaginably from what they were 150 years ago.

History by Vernon N. Kisling Jr.