A Blast into the Past

By Taylor Hudson

There is no denying that Carrier Library holds a lot of history and meaning on the JMU campus. As the first free-standing library on campus, completed in 1939, Carrier library has become a JMU landmark and will celebrate its 75th anniversary in 2014.

In order to commemorate the library’s 75th birthday, library employees created an exhibit entitled “Observe Our Library.” This exhibit—on display in the hallway outside of Special Collections—focuses on the need, planning, construction, and completion of the original section of the present day Carrier Library. It was originally called Madison Memorial Library, and the exhibit displays many interesting artifacts and items, such as photographs, blueprints, and articles from the Breeze about the new library. There are also many older items that were used in the original library on display. Julia Merkel, the library Preservation Officer, says, “The little porcelain water well roller for moistening due date slips in the back of books is so charmingly anachronistic that many folks don’t know what it is.”

Alyssa Fisher, the Graduate assistant for Special Collections and Preservation, spent all last semester researching for the “Observe Our Library” exhibit. Then, during the last three weeks of the Fall semester, the exhibit was finalized and constructed. It has been on display ever since and will end on March 11th.

Fisher believes that it is important for students to learn the history of their school. “Understanding the history of JMU allows students to have a greater sense of the community in which they spend four or more years of their lives learning and growing into the individuals they hope to become,” says Fisher.

And Merkel agrees, saying, “There is no substitute for a sense of place and history. Thinking about the footsteps of the students and faculty who tread the same steps years ago. That’s powerful.”

Carrier Library hopes to create a larger exhibit for the library’s 75th anniversary. But, until then, check out the “Observe Our Library” exhibit anytime during the Special Collection’s normal operating hours—Monday through Friday between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. It is completely free and open to everyone.

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