Textile Roots: Bradford Durfee College of Technology Library History, 1948-1965
There was little or no library at Bradford Durfee until around 1948 when the college began offering a four-year degree program leading to a Bachelor of Science. The college bulletin describes the nearby Fall River Public Library, with 100,000 volumes, as a resource for students. It goes on to say “The Institute is building up a library of its own consisting of technical works on engineering, science, and textiles, together with patent reports and abstracts of the literature in these fields.”
“This library is open to both students of the school and the general public as a reference library. Books may not be taken from the building. The outstanding scientific and technical journals in the fields of engineering, science and textiles are also on file.” The student newspaper, The Distaff, reports that the library is taking shape, and that a check out system, ‘without the use of a full-time librarian’ is in the process of being implemented.
Appropriate journals were received and placed on the main library shelves, as were books of general interest. Books on specialized subjects were placed in various departmental libraries. The old exhibit room, here pictured as it was in 1914, was renovated and refurnished to serve as the library. A committee consisting of three college instructors, Albert Stewart (physics) and Frederick Winter (English), chaired by Prof. James Watters (chemistry), ran the library.
Helen Eaton was hired as librarian to set up the college library in October of 1953. She was the first woman to be hired as faculty, an issue which caused some difficulty at the time; there was some speculation that it was delayed because they were looking for a male for the job. Miss Eaton set about upgrading the collections; right away she began reporting library acquisitions in the student newspaper.
As at New Bedford Institute of Technology, the number of college applicants outweighed the number that the physical plant was able to handle in the mid 1950s. Bradford Durfee College of Technology began planning for expansion, and in 1957 purchased the remaining properties on its city block. A ten-year expansion plan, which called for a new library and student union building, was announced the following year. The library found additional support as a central issue in the college’s desire to earn accreditation from the New England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Apparently the library had changed little over the years because of lack of space and funds; it was still located in what was once the exhibition room, a narrow and cramped space. It was seen as the “biggest and most obvious obstacle to accreditation.” A Library Development Fund was formed, with the goal to raise $25,000 to upgrade the library to accreditation standards.
Minimum standards included at least 8,000 volumes, distributed over the curriculum offered by the school, a library budget, adequate study space, accessibility to newspapers and magazines, and at least one full-time faculty rank librarian. The development fund was announced in March of 1959, and by October they had already raised $5,300 and ordered 1,550 volumes. State building funds were slow to come, and the library was eventually moved to the bottom of the priority list for building projects. At the same time the governor was pushing consolidation of Bradford Durfee and New Bedford Tech.
In the meantime, in the name of accreditation, the library was moved to larger quarters on the first floor of the administration building, across from the bookstore, and the collections were improved. Technolog reported that the library contained 12,000 volumes and received 200 serials. Books were classed according to the Dewey Decimal system, and students could lose library privileges for returning items late.
Bradford Durfee College earned accreditation in December of 1961. The New Bedford Institute of Technology earned accreditation at the same time
Moving the library
From a paragraph in the “Class History” of the 1963 yearbook:
“The greater part of September, October and November centered around our bid for accreditation by the new England Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools. Enthusiasm was high and there was much activity. Mr. Wild and his BA (Business Administration) Juniors removed the greater part of the old library in a matter of hours. Other preparations included the installation of a new fire alarm system, relocation of the offices of members of the Business Department, and some final touches to the new library.”September (1961) students