UF Libraries Timeline

George A. Smathers Libraries Historical Timeline

1905 – 1917    The beginnings        

1905    The Buckman Act of 1905 established present-day University of Florida and Florida State University. Libraries for the two schools were assembled from the libraries of six schools abolished by the Buckman Act. The largest library collections were those of the University of Florida (formerly the Florida Agricultural College) in Lake City and the Florida State College in Tallahassee. The library at Lake City served as a federal repository, and government documents were transferred to the new University of Florida. In July, Gainesville was chosen as the site for the new university. C. A. Finley, who had served as an assistant librarian in the pre-Buckman University of Florida, was chosen as the first Librarian of the new university.

1906    William S. Cawthon was appointed Librarian and was also given responsibility for transporting the last wagons of university equipment from Lake City to Gainesville. Cawthon later served as State Superintendent for Public Instruction. The Gainesville campus of the University of Florida opened on September 26, 1906. The library consisted of about 5000 volumes, but only 3000 could be shelved in Thomas Hall, one of only two buildings available.

1908    Milton B. Hadley was chosen as the third Librarian.

1909    As additional buildings became available, branch libraries were created to accommodate the collections. The library of the Florida Agricultural Experiment Station was the first to move when Newell Hall opened in 1909. Branch libraries for the sciences, law and engineering followed.

1912    The Main Library was transferred from Thomas to Peabody Hall.

1918-1944       Modernization

1918    Cora Miltimore was hired as the fourth Librarian. She was the first professionally trained librarian to head the library, and her administration ushered in modern forms of library organization. Additional professional librarians were hired to run catalog, circulation, and reference departments in the early 1920s. Among other accomplishments of Miltimore’s administration was the establishment of ILL, a book exchange, and the creation of a Florida Room for Florida materials.

1925    The first section of what is now Smathers Library opened and the South Tower was added in 1931.The new library had a seating capacity of approximately 800 and a stack capacity of 200,000 volumes.

1937    An Orders (Acquisitions) Department was established. The libraries contained over 125,000 volumes and there was a professional staff of six librarians. A support group, Friends of the University Library, was formed.

1938    A system for checking out books for reading outside the libraries was created.

1939    Walter B. Hill was appointed fifth Librarian.

1940    A mechanized circulation system that employed IBM punch cards was installed.

1945-1965       Collection building

1945    The P. K. Yonge Library of Florida History was founded after Julien Chandler Yonge donated historical documents, books and manuscripts collected by him and by his father, Philip Keyes Yonge.

1947    Stanley LeRoy West was selected to be the first Director of University Libraries. He was the first librarian to serve on the University’s Administrative Council.

1948    The Libraries established a special acquisitions fund for Latin American materials.

1950    Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings donated her library and papers and the Creative Writing Collection was organized. The library added a stacks unit and the North Tower was opened.

1951    The University Archives was established as part of the P. K. Yonge Library. A Rare Books collection was established the same year along with the Belknap Dance and Music Archives.

1953    A medical library was established in preparation for the opening of the Health Sciences Center Library in 1956.

1954    Music reading room opened.

1956    The Agricultural Library moved to McCarty Hall and was renamed the H. Harold Hume Library. Also in 1956, the Libraries joined the Association of Research Libraries (ARL) and the Association of Southeast Research Libraries (ASERL).

1959    A Department of Special Collections was created. The department was abolished in 1972 and then revived in 1987.

1960    Journalism reading room was established.

1963    The Libraries reached one million volumes. The same year, the Libraries became the site of the Florida Regional Depository for federal documents.

1965 The Architecture and Fine Arts (AFA) Library opens.

1966-1999       Automation and Expansion

1966    The Libraries scripted its first MARC (Machine Readable Cataloging) records.

1967    The Graduate Research Library opened and the old library was designated the College Library. The names were changed to Library West and Library East in 1970. Undergraduates were given access to the stacks for the first time in 1967.

1968    Gustave Harrer became the second Director of Libraries. A systems analyst was recruited and the Libraries issued an Automation Proposal to the university. An Assistant Director of Systems was appointed the following year.

1973    The Libraries joined the Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) and contributed catalog records to its national database via the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET). The Map Library was also established that year.

1977    The Baldwin Library of Historical Children’s Literature opened after Ruth Baldwin donated her collection of English and American children’s books.

1979    The Libraries reached two million volumes.

1980    The Libraries acquired NOTIS as its first library management system, and the Department of Systems and Computer Based Operations was created. With the implementation of NOTIS, new titles were processed electronically and existing card files were converted to MARC records creating an electronic catalog.The Education Library opened in its current location in Norman Hall.

1981    The Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica was dedicated.

1984    A barcoding project was initiated and an automated circulation system was implemented.

1985    Dale Canelas became the third Director of Libraries. The acquisitions budget was transferred from the faculty to the Libraries and a Collections Management department was created.

1986    A user interface with the electronic catalog called LUIS, Library User Information Service, was made available via public terminals. The Libraries ceased adding cards to the card catalog the following year.

1987    A new Department of Special Collections was organized, combining the Library of Florida History, the University Archives, Rare Books and Manuscripts, and the Baldwin Library. The Marston Science Library opened, combining all of the non-medical science collections, including the Hume Agricultural Library. Library East was renamed Smathers Library after Senator George A. Smathers provided a significant gift to renovate the building. The renovations were completed in 1996. Also in 1987, an African bibliographer was appointed and a Preservation unit was created.

1991    The University Libraries were renamed the George A. Smathers Libraries in recognition of Senator Smather’s support.

1993    The three millionth volume was acquired. In the same year, the Libraries acquired its first e-journals.

1995    The card catalog was removed from Library West.

1997    Special Collections was merged with the Latin American and Caribbean Collection, the Price Library of Judaica, and the African Studies Collection to form the Department of Special and Area Studies Collections. LUIS became web accessible.

1998    A library development office was established.

2000     The Rise to Preeminence 

2000 The University of Florida Digital Collections (UFDC) were established after a gift from former Florida Governor Farris Bryant to purchase the Libraries’ first scanners.

2001    RefeXpress, a chat service for reference questions, was launched and the first e-books were acquired.

2003    The four millionth volume was added. Exlibris/Aleph replaced NOTIS. Library West was closed for major renovations and expansion.

2004    The Digital Library of the Caribbean (dLOC) was organized; it went online in 2006.

2005    The Map & Imagery Library celebrated the acquisition of its 500,000th map.

2006    The Institutional Repository was established to provide a host site within UFDC for scholarly digital content produced by the UF academic community. Library West reopened and a dedication ceremony was held in January 2007.

2007    Judith C. Russell was appointed the first Dean of University Libraries. UFDC added its millionth page.

2012    The FLorida Academic REpository (FLARE) was organized to provide storage for low use print materials from academic libraries in Florida. The Panama Canal Museum in Seminole, Florida transferred is collection to the Libraries and it became the Panama Canal Museum Collection at the University of Florida.

2014    The Judaica Suite, designed by world-renowned architect and artist Kenneth Treister was officially opened in Smathers Library. The Marston Science Library first floor was renovated to become the Collaboration Commons. The Map & Imagery Library moved to the first floor of Smathers Library. The Government Documents print materials were moved to an off-campus facility. The Latin American and Caribbean Collection Reading Room moved from the fourth floor of Smathers Library to the third floor into a larger and renovated space. The five millionth volume was added.

2014-2023 Staggered renovation of Marston floors. Marston’s first floor was the first to see a total renovation, in the summer of 2014.  The remaining floors were renovated (bottom to top) over the course of several years in order to enhance the type of seating and study spaces available for students.  The fifth floor was completed in 2023 and the overall effort resulted in Marston becoming the most visited library on campus.  Prior to the renovation there was an average 700K students visiting per year. After the renovation, there was more than 2.1 million visitors per year. To expand the offered seating, many less-utilized science collections moved to the offsite library, accessible upon request.

2017    The Albert H. Nahmad Panama Canal Gallery opened in Smathers Library to showcase items from the Panama Canal Museum Collection. The six millionth volume was added.

2018    The Education Library’s renovation was completed. Highlights include: updated ADA restrooms, gender neutral restrooms and a lactation room, an ADA service desk, improved lighting, new carpet, all new furniture, a computer lab, dual monitor computers on the 2nd floor, additional electrical outlets, two additional group study rooms, new security gates and the EduGator Makery (educational makerspace).

2019 UF began digitizing more than 60,000 books through participation in mass digitization projects through the Google Books Project. By project completion, the Smathers Libraries will have digitized hundreds of thousands of materials. 

2020-2021 Significant repairs and renovations of the Smathers Library Building improved the building envelope and environmental conditions for the Judaica Suite and multiple collection storage spaces.

2021 All Florida public colleges and universities upgraded core library system and platform to Alma and Primo VE.  This next generation integrated library system leverages cloud-based services and offers a responsive, scalable web and mobile design.  This upgrade expands access to materials and improves the user experience for students, faculty, staff and researchers. 

2022 Marston Makerspace created