History of the Libraries

History of the Libraries

At the founding of Carnegie Technical Schools in 1900, there was no library on campus. It had been determined that the nearby Carnegie Public Library would adequately serve the needs of students and faculty. As the school grew, becoming the Carnegie Institute of Technology, it became clear that the campus needed its own library.

The HutFor some time, various departments established their own branch libraries. Then, in 1920, a soldier’s canteen that had been constructed during World War I was moved to the center of campus and converted into the campus library. This building, known as “The Hut,” served as the main library for the next 23 years.

In 1943, the library collection was moved to room 240 in Industries Hall (now Porter Hall), and “The Hut” was made back into a dining facility. In 1949, the collection outgrew its home and was moved to rooms 355-360 of Administration Hall (now Baker Hall). Still, the collection kept growing, and the rooms in Baker Hall did not provide enough space.

In 1958, Mr. and Mrs. Roy A. Hunt donated funds for the construction of a new library building on campus. The donation originated with Mrs. Hunt’s desire for a home for her fine collection of historical botanical books. The Hunts agreed to provide a suitable library building for Carnegie Tech, with her books occupying the top floor. In 1961, Hunt Library opened. Mrs. Hunt’s world-renowned collection still resides on the fifth floor, under the care of the Hunt Institute for Botanical Documentation (originally the Rachel McMasters Miller Hunt Botanical Library).

Carnegie Tech finally had a modern central library building. With the merging of Carnegie Tech and the Mellon Institute in 1967, which created Carnegie Mellon University, the university acquired the Mellon Institute Library, housed in the majestic Mellon Institute on Fifth Avenue.

Hunt DedicationIn 1971, the engineering and science collections were transferred from Hunt Library to the fourth floor of Science Hall (now Wean Hall), to the  Engineering & Science Library. Hunt Library, the Engineering & Science Library, and the Mellon Institute Library became a campus institution called Carnegie Mellon University Libraries. In 2012, the Engineering & Science Library was renamed the Roger Sorrells Engineering & Science Library.

Dramatic changes came in the 1980s, when automation radically altered the library environment. Library services changed due to the rapid technological growth of this university, along with other research libraries. Computing allowed the Libraries to organize, access, and retrieve information with greater accuracy and efficiency. Both library staff and patrons agreed that the online catalog and other databases increased the speed, ease, and success of library use.

Carnegie Mellon University Libraries continue to advance. The Posner Center and Qatar Campus Library have become a part of the institution. The Hunt Library has undergone renovations including the 2006 addition of the Maggie Murph Café, and an exterior LED lighting façade was added in 2010, providing a beautiful display of the building’s aluminum and glass structure. Hunt Library is now open 24/5 during regular terms.