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History of Dewey Library – Part I

This summer, we are running a series of posts and photographs tracing the history of the Hawley Building and the creation of the Dewey Library. Have you ever wondered why our building is called Hawley Hall and yet it houses the Dewey Library? Would you like to know more about the beautiful murals and stained glass windows of our building? Did you know that the Hawley building had other uses before it was a library? We will answer these questions and more in our series this summer.

Early Uses of Hawley Hall

Hawley Hall was first created as an auditorium, and was used for that purpose until Page Hall was opened in 1929. Weekly assemblies were held in the auditorium for all students to attend. The basement of Hawley Hall, where our circulating books and quiet study are now located, was a gymnasium. The library was located in the Administration Building (later named Draper Hall). It was a sparse collection and the room only seated 60 people.

According to Geoffrey Williams, our University Archivist, a college faculty member was a frequent luncheon guest at the Executive Mansion when Franklin Delano Roosevelt was governor. This faculty member would help Franklin and Eleanor practice their French. At some point the faculty member mentioned to the Roosevelts that the college needed a new library. Possibly as a result of these discussions, a request for funding to expand the library, made by college president Brubacher was approved and in 1933, Hawley library was opened. The upstairs was essentially a large study hall with books lining the walls. The downstairs gymnasium had become the Student Commons, where dances were held. The mezzanine, where the Dewey Classroom is now located, was where student groups held their meetings. The lower level became a second reading room for the library in 1951.

In 1966, the new Uptown campus was built, and the Hawley library was abandoned, although it may have been used for various purposes by the Milne School. The library materials for the newly created School of Social Welfare and School of Criminal Justice were located up the road at Alumni Quad. In 1979, the downtown campus programs (Criminal Justice, Social Welfare, Public Administration and Policy, and later Library Science) were organized into the Rockefeller College of Public Affairs and Policy, and the library was reinstituted in Hawley as the Graduate Library for Public Affairs and Policy to meet the needs of the downtown campus programs.

Next week…. Where did the name “DEWEY��? come from? Hint… it’s not related to the Dewey Decimal System!

Blog post written by Elaine Bergman with significant content from Geoffrey Williams.