12 Dec Celebrating Our 50th Anniversary
We’re turning 50!
A Little History
Wallace Stegner, a distinguished alumnus and former professor of the University of Utah, dedicated the newly completed library on May 18, 1968. It was a festive occasion. The campus had not before had a library of this size and scope. The library housed over one million volumes and provided seating for three thousand students; it was on its way to becoming the state’s flagship academic library.
Later, in 1969, the library was re-dedicated and named in honor of J. Willard Marriott, Sr., after his contribution of
$1 million for library collections. It was the largest single donation for the U at that time. Mr. Marriott and his wife, Alice Sheets Marriott, were both alumni of the U. Mr. Marriott delivered a brief speech to rededicate the building on August 16, 1969.
Gregory Thompson, Ph.D., associate dean for Special Collections, comments, “The original gift from the Marriotts allowed us to build a library capable of fueling a first-rate, research one university. Their contribution also provided an excellent foundation for what is now a superb rare book collection of 85,000 books.”
We’re kicking off celebrations with a birthday bash! Swing by to grab a slice of a 50 foot long cake or participate in some sci-fi trivia from the decades. Afterwards, experience some nostalgia with some classic buttons created with our button maker.
Exhibition of Friends of the Library Keepsakes Honors Library’s Roots
Early History of Libraries at the University of Utah
- 1850—Three years after pioneers reached the Salt Lake valley, the University of Deseret was founded. The earliest library at the University of Deseret was in the Council House, located on the corner of Main and South Temple Streets.
- 1874— In 1874 University President John R. Park loaned 2,000 of his personal academic books, growing library collections significantly. The reading room provided seating for 50 students.
- 1900—The library was located in what is now the LeRoy Cowles Building on Presidents Circle. It housed 12,950 volumes and provided seating for 100 students out of a student body of 765.
- 1906—The first professionally trained librarian, Esther H. Nelson, was hired by the University.
- 1914 — The Library moved from the Widtsoe Building to the Park Building, where it inhabited two floors.
- 1935 – The library moved to the George Thomas building on President’s Circle
- 1968 – The newly completed library is celebrated and Wallace Stegner, Ph.D. serves as the keynote speaker at the dedication ceremony
- 1969 – J. Willard Marriott, Sr. contributed $1 million for collections and the library is re-dedicated and named J. Willard Marriott Library.
- 1996 – Construction was completed on a 200,000-foot expansion for shelving and reader seating.
- 2009 – A re-dedication ceremony was held to celebrate the renovation of the library, which brought the building up to seismic code, incorporated an automated retrieval center capable of housing 2 million items, and replaced the concrete panels with window walls.
- 2018 – Celebrations commence for the Marriott Library’s 50th Anniversary.