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TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES

TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES. Although Texas A&M opened its doors to students as the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas in 1876, a library was first established only in 1879. It was housed in the Main Building, where it remained until May 1912, when that structure burned and the modest library collection was destroyed. The library was subsequently housed in an old indoor swimming pool before it was moved into the Academic Building; there it remained until 1930, when it was moved into the Cushing Memorial Library building (named for Edward B. Cushing, who had served as president of the A&M Board of Regents and had donated his library). When a major addition was completed in 1968, the name was changed to University Library. During the planning for a second major addition, which was completed and occupied in 1979, the library facilities were named for Sterling C. Evans in recognition of his significant contribution to them. For most of its history the library has been inadequately funded, since it has depended almost entirely upon formula funding provided by the state legislature. Consequently, its collections and staff are not as large as they should be to provide resource materials and assistance for students and faculty. Improved funding in recent years, arising largely from rapid growth in enrollment, has made possible sizable increases in both holdings and staff. In the mid-1990s holdings included 2.2 million volumes in hard copy, 4.4 million in microtext, and more than 135,000 maps. The book collection was increasing by 72,000 volumes annually, while the microtext collections were growing by 185,000. Because of the nature of the course offerings at Texas A&M, the major strengths of the collection are in agriculture, engineering, and science; efforts are being made to improve holdings in other fields.

A university archives unit was established in 1950. For the first twenty years it was primarily a receiver of Aggie memorabilia and a publisher of short pamphlets on A&M history. Since 1971, however, the archives has been actively collecting administrative records of the university and other parts of the Texas A&M University System, which is headquartered in College Station. In addition, the archives has been acquiring manuscript collections in the areas of agriculture, technology, and modern politics. Total holdings are more than 6,500 feet of university records and more than 7,000 feet of manuscripts. A modest oral-history collection is also a part of the archives. The most significant oral-history projects have involved interviewing twentieth-century oceanographers and Aggies who have become generals. A special-collections unit was established in 1968, although the library had held some special collections for over three decades. Among the most notable special collections are the Science Fiction Research Collection, the Jeff Dykes Range Livestock Collection, the Dykes-Goldsmith Collection of J. Frank Dobie materials, the Western Illustrators Collection, the Loran L. Laughlin Collection on the history of printing, the Mavis and Mary Kelsey Collection of Americana, and collections of Matthew Arnold and W. Somerset Maugham materials.

Like many other large academic institutions, Texas A&M has had a number of branch and departmental libraries, two of which merit separate treatment. Texas A&M established a School of Veterinary Medicine in 1916, but the Department of Veterinary Medicine had started a library as early as 1893. The Veterinary Library was formally organized as a branch library in 1949 and became the Medical Sciences Library when the College of Medicine was established in 1975. In 1980 the Medical Sciences Library was separated from the University Library. It holds approximately 55,000 volumes and was housed in the veterinary administration building until 1985, when it was moved to a separate structure. In 1942 Texas A&M entered into an agreement with the Texas Society of Professional Engineers to establish the Texas Engineers Library, funded jointly by Texas A&M and the society. For ten years this library was located in an old engineering shop, but in 1952 it was moved into the Gibb Gilchrist Engineering Library building. Although it was never funded adequately, in part because of opposition within the profession to its location in College Station rather than Austin, the library continued to exist until 1968. Funding from the Texas Society of Professional Engineers was discontinued permanently in 1961, when the Texas attorney general ruled that the transfer to Texas A&M of registration fees paid by professional engineers was illegal. The Gibb Gilchrist Engineering Library Building was incorporated into the 1968 addition to the University Library, and the collection of the Texas Engineers Library was merged with that of the University Library.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: 

Encyclopedia of Library and Information Science, Vol. 30. Robert W. Orr and William H. Carlson, Report of a Survey of the Library of the Texas A&M College (College Station: Texas A&M, 1950). Charles R. Schultz, "Making Something Happen": Texas A&M University Libraries (College Station: Texas A&M Libraries, 1979).

Charles R. Schultz

Citation

The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article.

Charles R. Schultz, "TEXAS A&M UNIVERSITY LIBRARIES," Handbook of Texas Online (http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/lct05), accessed December 21, 2014. Uploaded on June 15, 2010. Published by the Texas State Historical Association.