By Heidi Brett, Marriott Library
50th Anniversary Celebration
Friday, March 2, 2018, 11 a.m.-12 p.m., refreshments to follow program
J. Willard Marriott Library Atrium, level 3
Free and open to the public
Click here for more information.
On April 18, 1968, Pulitzer Prize-winning author and U alum Wallace Stegner visited campus to speak at the dedication of the newly constructed Library and Learning Center, which would become the J. Willard Marriott Library the following year.
Strategically positioned in the center of campus, the new library was the largest academic library in the nation at the time.
The previous library in the George Thomas Building (now the Crocker Science Center) had made for cramped quarters, but the new library, spanning five floors and 300,000 square feet, almost seemed overly spacious. The long rows of stacks were initially sparsely inhabited. But not for long. In 1969, J. Willard Marriott, Sr. contributed $1 million to fill those shelves. The gift was the largest contribution the U had received at that point.
“The Marriott family’s generosity laid the foundation for what would become one of the finest academic libraries in the west,” said Alberta Comer, dean of the Marriott Library and university librarian. “Their continued support for the past five decades has allowed us to grow not only in collections but also technologically and as an organization as a whole.”
On Friday, March 2, the Marriott Library will hold a 50th celebration event.
BEYOND 50 YEARS: THE BUILDING OF A GREAT LIBRARY FROM THE VERY BEGINNING
Three years after pioneers reached the Salt Lake valley, the University of Deseret was founded. The earliest library was in the Council House, located on the corner of Main and South Temple.
In 1874, University President John R. Park loaned 2,000 of his personal academic books, which significantly increased the library’s collections. The reading room provided seating for 50 students.
The library moved from the Widtsoe Building to the Park Building, where it inhabited two floors.
The first professionally trained librarian, Esther H. Nelson, was hired by the university.
Federal funds from the National Recovery Act in 1933 provided for the construction of the George Thomas Library.
The Thomas Library became a popular campus spot for socializing as well as studying.
The Thomas Library served as a functional home for more than three decades. By the late 50’s it became clear the library needed more space for books and seating.
Construction of the Learning Center and Library was completed at the end of 1967.
The newly completed library opened and Wallace Stegner served as the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony.
J. Willard Marriott, Sr. contributed $1 million for collections and the library was re-dedicated and named J. Willard Marriott Library.
Card catalogues were used prior to 1987, when the new computerized system came on board.
A groundbreaking ceremony was held for a library expansion. Left to right: Gregory Thompson, Juli Hinz, Ken Luker, Glen Cameron and Bob Staub.
The celebration for the library expansion project took place on Oct. 2, 1996.
Ground is broken for a comprehensive renovation project that would bring the library up to seismic code and incorporate an Automated Retrieval Center for high-density collection storage.
First Lady Laura Bush and U.S. Senator Orrin Hatch at the library rededication event, Oct. 26, 2009.
Celebrations commence for the Marriott Library’s 50th Anniversary.