Golda Meir Library Celebrates 50th Birthday With Party, Cupcakes Feb. 20

Golda Meir Library, 1967. UWM Photographic Services.

Golda Meir Library, 1967, UWM Photographic Services. UWM Archives.

Fifty years ago this weekend, a moving company with the help of 150 temporarily employed students transferred approximately 600,000 books and other library materials from UWM’s old library (now Mellencamp Hall) to the brand new University Library (named Golda Meir Library in 1979).

The doors opened at 8 a.m. Monday morning, February 20, 1967 to a 150,000 square foot space, more than four times the size of the old library.

Notable features included air-conditioning, a first among UWM facilities (though probably not needed that day!) and a “plush, bright orange carpeting,” according to the UWM Post, covering the floors and the stairs.

This Monday, February 20, 2017 at 3 p.m. in the first floor Daniel M. Soref Learning Commons, Chancellor Mark Mone will join the Library in celebrating its half-century of serving the UWM community.

Students in library, c.1967-74, UWM Photographic Services. UWM Archives.

There will be brief remarks and free mini-cupcakes as long as the supply lasts.

The Archives is also creating an exhibit in the lobby that looks back decade by decade at the library’s history. The display runs February 20 to March 17.

Designed by Fitzhugh Scott Architects, the original building–what is now the West Wing–received the Milwaukee Arts Commission Award of Excellence and the architectural award of the Wisconsin Chapter of the American Institute of Architects.

Of course, the Library continued to grow (and grow up). It shed the orange carpet. Two expansions (the East Wing,1974 and the fourth floor, 1987) increased its size to 379,000 square feet.

In 2009, the Learning Commons was carved out of the first floor of the West Wing. And today, holdings number more than 5.3 million items with digital access to millions more.

What hasn’t changed is the Golda Meir Library’s central role in student success and research support–offering students and faculty alike a safe and comfortable place to work, access to data and resources, and research assistance from a dedicated library staff.

–Steve Burnham