Today in NC State History: D.H. Hill reaches a milestone

February 23, 2014
By Bill Krueger

historyIconThe (still) new Hunt Library on Centennial Campus has something called a bookBot, a robotic book delivery system that holds about 1.5 million books inside a two-story 120-foot-long vault that can be seen through a large window on the library’s first floor.

It wasn’t that long ago that NC State didn’t have that many books in its entire library system.

It was on this day in 1981 that the Technician published a story celebrating the fact that D.H. Hill Library was about to reach 1 million books. It was the result of a push that had begun two years earlier, when NC State had only 850,000 library books.

Reaching the 1 million threshold was not just a matter of campus pride. NC State was trying to become a member of the Association of Research Libraries, and one of the requirements was a collection of at least 1 million books.

But even with 1 million books, the article noted that D.H. Hill’s collection still paled in comparison to the collections at Duke University and the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.

“We just got a late start,” said Isaac T. Littleton, then the director of libraries at NC State. “They had much higher budgets for so long. We didn’t start growing until the 1960s. They have had higher budgets for decades.”

The additional books did lead to less study space for students in the stacks. But then that’s part of the reason the new Hunt Library was built — to provide more library space for students.

And more room for the 4.6 million books (some of which are electronic) that NC State now has in its libraries.

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