Opened in 1962, the University of Miami’s Otto G. Richter Library celebrates 50 years of supporting scholarship, research, and discovery this fall. Originally housed in temporary quarters in several locations throughout the University, the first central library was created in December 1949 by moving books from four locations into a section of the Merrick Building. Through donations from the estate of the late Otto G. Richter, the estate of Meyer Gold, and the George A. Brockway Foundation, construction of the Watson, Deutschman, and Kruse-designed library began in 1959.
On June 10, 1962 University President Jay Pearson dedicated the new $3 million, state-of-the-art facility. The modern building included amenities such as an escalator, a nine-story tower with closed stacks, bookveyors that allowed staff to quickly deliver books from the second to ninth floor, an undergraduate students floor, and graduate student reading rooms.
As the needs of library users changed over the years, the University has updated the library to reflect advances in the academic and research agendas. Thanks to substantial donor support, the University undertook major renovations from 1999 to 2003. The Dr. Maxwell and Reva B. Dauer Clock Tower was completed in 2000; the Roberto C. Goizueta Pavilion opened in 2003, serving as the home of the acclaimed Cuban Heritage Collection; and a Starbucks on the first floor of the Brockway building opened, giving students a place to sit and study.
The new design added classrooms, conference rooms, and student group study rooms. With a focus on technology, the library has added a high-tech information commons, digital media lab, digital production and scanning facilities, and a sophisticated conservation laboratory that ensures preservation of fragile materials.
“Computing and technological advances have had a major impact on shaping service delivery, but just as important are the closer partnerships the library has developed with students and faculty over the years,” said Lyn MacCorkle, digital repository librarian, who has been with the Richter Library for 30 years and seen the transformation occur.
Today the Richter Library offers students and researchers one of the most comprehensive information resources in the Southeast and continues to build its print, multimedia, and networked information resources at a robust pace. Also, the library promotes the humanities with year-round exhibitions in which exceptional and unique items are displayed, and provides noteworthy cultural programming that includes prominent guest speakers from around the world.
“As a champion of scholarship, the library team has transformed the Richter Library into a sophisticated, high-tech program,” said Dean and University Librarian William Walker. “Our community can use both materials born digitally as well as print for discovery and dissemination of new ideas and concepts. Physical library space still matters in this digital age. The Richter is one of the most frequented venues on campus, with a door count of over 950,000 visitors a year. The library has become a gateway to new technologies that give UM students exceptional opportunities to work in a highly innovative learning environment.”
Richter Library will celebrate its 50th anniversary with a series of celebrations, which include exhibitions and a speaker and poetry series. The fall exhibitions will include a showcase on political poetry and will join the centennial celebration of Cuban playwright Virgilio Piñera with an exhibition titled Absurd Celebration, part of the kick-off event for Taking Flight: The Year of Humanities and Arts at the University of Miami.
For more information on the UM Libraries, please go to http://library.miami.edu.