A Brief History of University of Miami Libraries


The University of Miami was established in 1925, and the University library began with a foundational gift from the library of Mrs. William Jennings Bryan in 1926. Since then the University of Miami Libraries (UML) have grown rapidly to become one of the top 50 research libraries in North America with holdings in six libraries across three UM campuses that will surpass the 4 million mark in 2019. The following timeline tracks notable ‘moments’ in the history of UML and is based on information from the University Archives and two seminal institutional histories by Professors Charlton Tebeau and William Butler:

-Charleton W. Tebeau. The University of Miami : a golden anniversary history, 1926-1976. Coral Gables, Florida: University of Miami Press, 1976.

-William R. Butler. Embracing the World: The University of Miami from Cardboard College to International and Global Acclaim. Boston: Buddenbooks, 2008.


1926 1st volume – a gift of Mrs. William Jennings Bryan provides basis for first library collection   
1932 Mrs. Dorothy B. Miller appointed first librarian Library distributed across various North Campus locations
1947 Mr. William G. Harkins appointed librarian  
1949 Library moves from North Campus to Coral Gables campus – Merrick Building  
1949 Marine Laboratory Library housed at 439 Anastasia Coral Gables “the largest marine library in the south”.  It was second then only to Woods Hole Library in the north.
1952 Dr. Archie L. McNeal appointed Library Director Russian Collection est. 1957
1957 Albert Pick Music Library opens Mrs. Elsie Fardig appointed head librarian
1959 Marine Science Institute Library moves to Virginia Key  
1962 Otto G. Richter Library dedicated June 10 1m volume capacity / 2000 seats for student study
  Special Collections established  
1971 1 millionth volume  
1976 University of Miami Libraries admitted to membership in the Association of Research Libraries  
  [unbuilt] Richter Library Expansion/new Special Collections  made focus of fundraising 1976-1981 $3.5m Century Campaign’ Campaign literature highlights ‘Cuban Culture Collection’
1978 Helen Carmichael “Mike” Purdy appointed head of Archives and Special Collections  
1979 Mr. Frank Rogers appointed Director of Libraries Pan Am World Airways Inc collection acquired 1982
1981 [unbuilt] Decision not to proceed with $3.5m Richter Library Expansion  
  Planning for South Campus Library Facility begins  
1987 School of Architecture Reading Room opens Houses reference works, reserves, maps and slide collection
1995 2 millionth volume  
1997 Mr. Don Bosseau appointed Director of Libraries “Library South” storage facility opens on the South Campus
1998 Cuban Heritage Collection established in Richter Library Esperanza Bravo de Varona appointed CHC director
1999 Library Center Movement – Faculty Senate Initiative Concerns over UM investment in Library facility and collections
  Judi Prokop Newman Information Resource Center opens First North American “virtual business library”
2000 Renovated Richter Library opens  
  Library collection budget enhanced  
2003 Mr. William Walker appointed Dean of Libraries and University Librarian  
  Cuban Heritage Collection opens in the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion – second floor of Richter Library  
2004 Planning process and architectural designs for Richter Library Expansion/new Special Collections.  
2005 Austin and Marta Weeks Music Library opens The Pick Library building is being remodeled as a studio.
  [unbuilt] Richter Library Expansion/new Special Collections.  Decision not to proceed. Fundraising 2005-2008 $33m target as part of first ‘Millennium Campaign’
  Hurricanes.  08-26-05 – SCLF facility hit by Hurricane Katrina – significant water/mold damage; further mold damage occurs 10-24-05 from Hurricane Wilma.  Collections sent to Belfor [TX facility] for remediation. Planning for a Miami Lakes storage facility begins.
2007 3 millionth volume Celebrated in October.
  South Campus Library Facility collection moved to Miami Lakes storage facility  
  University Archives established  
2008 MOU between Richter and RSMAS aligns the RSMAS Library with the UM Libraries (RSMAS retains budget)  
2011 UM signs agreement with UF to create Collaborative Academic Libraries Collection (CALC) – later renamed Florida Academic Repository (FLARE) Richter begins transferring general collections (journals) to Gainesville
2012 Richter Library celebrates its 50th year Anniversary  
  Electronic Book acquisition policy implemented  
  UM Libraries join HathiTrust digital books initiative  
  UM Libraries join Academic Preservation Trust  
2013 Dr. Charles Eckman appointed Dean of Libraries and University Librarian  
2015 Austin and Marta Weeks Music Library celebrates its ten year anniversary  
  Study for a UM regional library storage facility begins  
2016 Libraries electronic book holdings reach 900,000  
  Planning begins for a Learning Commons (Richter Library 1st Floor) and a Special Collections and University Archives Center (Richter Library 1st floor, mezzanine and 8th floors)  
2017 MOU between Richter and Miller School of Medicine aligns the Medical Library with the UML (MSOM retains budget authority)  
  Gift announced: Kislak Collection of the Early Americas, Exploration and Navigation – largest in UML history  
  Richter begins transferring books to FLARE  
2018 Learning Commons opens in Richter Library  
  Kislak Center opens as new home of Special Collections and University Archives in the Richter Library  
2019 4 millionth volume Spring