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History 1850 to 1899 History
1850 An eight-member, voter-elected Board of Regents was established, the first of its kind in the U.S. [10]

General Library building
1883: The General Library building

1850s The first president of the University, Henry Tappan, spoke these words to the Board of Regents in support of the Library.
"A Library supplies the daily food of the mind. It is impossible to carry on the educational discipline of such an Institution as ours without an ample supply of books in every branch of Science and Literature. Books, here, are not an amusement or a luxury; they are a prime necessity; they are the fixed capital of a University." [10]
1854 President Tappan asked Ann Arbor citizens for contributions to the Library's book-purchasing budget. $1,515 was raised and was used to purchase 1,200 volumes. [12]

The North Wing of the University Building was remodeled and the University’s Library and Museum were installed. While books could no longer circulate outside the Library, daily service was provided and there was a reading room in the Library for research and study. [18]

1863 The Library was moved to the Law Building where it remained for 20 years.
1864-1877 Librarian Andrew Ten Brook devoted much of his energies to developing a new, detailed catalog system for the Library. Ten Brook’s successor, Davis, continued the focus on cataloging and, by 1901, reclassified over 100,000 with the Dewey Decimal Classification System.[10]
1869 The Regents adjusted many University employees salaries. The President now made $3,000 and was provided with housing, professors made $2,000, assistant professors $1,300, law and medical professors $1,300, the librarian $2,000 and janitors $500. [11]
1870-1940 The collections grew from 17,000 to 941,500 volumes. Major collections during this time included: McMillan Shakespeare collection (1883), Christian Buhl's law collection (1885), the Ford Messer fund for European learned societies and academies (1893), and the Coyl Fund for books on art and architecture (1893). [10]

The General Library Building was constructed. Due to the rapid growth of the Library's collections, this new building was deemed too small within twelve years of its construction. Attempts were made to deal with the overcrowding by adding stacks in 1899, 1903, and 1910 and by creating separate subject libraries.[10]

The Goethe Fund was created by Ann Arbor citizens of German descent. This fund was used to support the Library's purchase of Goethe's writings as well as those of other German authors. [10]


Handwritten subject cards began to be made; later the Library switched to typed cards and, after 1900, to printed cards from the Library of Congress. After 1915 there was reduced quality in cataloging due to collection growth and changes in the cataloging staff. [18]

For over a decade the University of Michigan General Library was considered the strongest library in the country west of Cornell. On September 30, 1890 Librarian Raymond C. Davis reported that in all of the UM libraries there were 74,599 volumes, 14,907 unbound pamphlets and 571 maps, in the Law Library 10,218 volumes, in the Medical Library 4,146 volumes and 996 unbound pamphlets, and in the Library of the Dental College 500 volumes.[18]

1895 President James Burrill Angell addressed the Regents on the overcrowding of the Library: "The embarrassment, to which I have called attention in previous reports, arising from the crowded condition of the Library, of course grows more serious every year." [7]
1896 The Library established its own bindery and WC Hollands, University binder, rebound the Library's first purchase, Audubon's Birds of America. [18]
Late 1890s

Library protocol was that women sat on one side of the reading room and men on the other.

Librarian Raymond C. Davis did not allow students access to the stacks but believed their use of the collections was important. He developed a course in bibliography, the history of the book and library use.[10]

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