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Friday, Aug 23, 2019

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Alumnus Jim Busek (’69), who studied business and economics, takes a seat near the giant movie screen during the Libraries’ annual Homecoming Archives Display.

Photographer: Mark Clavin/Ohio University Libraries

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Alumna Pam Adair (’76), who studied pre-med as an OHIO student, poses with Rufus the Bobcat for the Homecoming Selfie Project.

Photographer: Mark Clavin/Ohio University Libraries

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Joe Buras, a University of Dayton alumnus, speaks with OHIO alumna Tonga Cox (’89), who studied journalism, at the Libraries’ annual Homecoming Archives Display.

Photographer: Mark Clavin/Ohio University Libraries

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Alumni share fond memories of the OHIO Libraries


In the past 200 years, OHIO University Libraries have undergone renovations, relocations and technological changes that have made them into what they are today—a dynamic and interactive center for information and resources.

The Libraries are often at the center of the many unique experiences deposited in the memories of OHIO students and alumni. If you think about your library memories, do they include long hours of studying on one of Alden’s seven floors, meeting up with classmates to work on group projects in the second-floor Learning Commons or joining friends in Café Bibliotech for a warm cup of cocoa? We all have these unique experiences that bind us as members of the OHIO community, and for alumni, the memories of OHIO’s Libraries are just as vivid.

When looking back at the legacy of OHIO Libraries, one doesn’t have to look far to recall a time when Chubb Library was the main campus library. Established in 1931, Chubb Library was named in honor of Edwin Watts Chubb, an OHIO professor, dean and two-time president.

Chubb Library—now known as Chubb Hall—had three floors. The ground floor featured the book stacks and popular student areas such as the smoking and study room and the pleasure reading room. The main floor included book stacks and service areas such as the circulation desk, reference room and the reserve reading room.

Chubb Library is also a not-so-distant memory for some OHIO alumni, who can recall the days of studying in one of the designated workspaces among the book stacks. This is one example of the fond memories that draw alumni back to the University throughout the years.

Homecoming, a fall semester tradition, is one of the many occasions where alumni visit in record numbers. Homecoming 2014, OHIO’s 92nd Homecoming, took place from Oct. 6-11. This year’s theme, “Bobcat Family Reunion,” was organized through a series of events that encouraged both students and alumni to celebrate the unifying nature of what it means to be a Bobcat. Each year, more than 2,000 alumni return to Athens for the OHIO Homecoming.

During Homecoming weekend, the Libraries hosted its annual Homecoming Archives Display, a 20-table setup featuring an array of Ohio University memorabilia from the late 1800s through the early 2000s. The display is a popular attraction for alumni during Homecoming weekend.

On the morning of Saturday, Oct. 11, it was the memories that attracted people to the Libraries. Buried within the archival material, which was organized according to year, are the impressions that tie individuals to the University. On this day, the fourth floor of Alden Library, which is usually quiet on a Saturday morning, hosted a small crowd who softly chatted amongst themselves—reflecting on their memories—as they leafed through pages of newspapers, yearbooks, pamphlets and other archival material.

While looking through the tables of artifacts, alumnus Jim Busek (’69) recalled the days he spent studying in the stacks of Chubb Library as a business major. He describes the long wooden tables and “people actually being quiet like the old library days” as some of the most memorable aspects of the Library.

Today it’s quite common to see students engage in collaborative learning and group work that requires conversation. Open 24 hours a day, five days a week in addition to Alden’s normal hours of operation, the second-floor Learning Commons provides a place for students to work together. However, OHIO students still request designated quiet areas that may be reminiscent of the silent atmosphere of the past.

Busek, a frequent visitor to the University, said he recognizes the many changes that have occurred over the years. He is most impressed with the Libraries’ willingness to change with the times.

 “I see that every time I walk in here—that it’s different,” said Busek. “I was taken by how each floor is a specialty floor now, whereas the library used to be a single thing. But now it seems like there are specialties for every area—for research and for study, media and for traditional books, and so on.”

Alumna Pam Adair (’76), who studied pre-med, said Alden is a great place for individuals to “reconnect with their years here.” Although she became a student in the 1970s, she remembers Chubb Library, as well as the early years of Alden Library.

As she posed to take a photo for the Bobcat Selfie Project—an idea created to encourage students, faculty and alumni to take a selfie with a life-size cutout of the 1990 OHIO Bobcat mascot— Adair says her earliest memories of Chubb Library begin around the age of 5. During her childhood she spent a lot of time at the University visiting her two older sisters, who are also OHIO alumnae.

Besides the obvious technological updates and additional resources, Adair said she notices many improvements that promote an atmosphere conducive to studying.

“I know it’s not all about books any more—it’s all [about] technology,” said Adair. “…I mean really this is an amazing Library and [students have] all the access, to all different kinds of technology and books...”

A current resident of Michigan, Adair describes the University as “home.” She said her connection to Ohio University is one that has been established through several family generations.

“I think it’s pretty hard to find somebody who went to school here who doesn’t have a really strong connection,” said Adair. “…We’re here a lot. Both of our daughters went here to school, and I met my husband here. So he’s an OHIO alumnus as well, and we have season football tickets, so we’re here all the time.”

Alumni who attended the University after 1969 consider Alden Library to be an important part of their educational experience. Alumna Tonga Cox (’89), who studied journalism and currently works as an academic advisor and skills instructor with the Academic Advancement Center, said she spent a lot of time in Alden where she would often study and get coffee. Cox laughed as she remembered making telephone calls from the Library.

“They had free phones at the time because cell phones weren’t out,” said Cox. “So, we’d use the phones there to call people. [That is] so weird. I spent a lot of time in the Library.”

Like many students today, Cox also remembers having a favorite study area in the Library.

“When I was in school, [I remember] just coming up here to the seventh floor and spending a lot of time—actually with the books—and studying because it was quiet, and it was a great place to study with no distractions,” said Cox.

Although a lot about the Library has changed, Cox said that she believes it’s still a place for students to gather.

“…To me, it’s the centerpiece of Ohio University where students come to get things done, to sometimes use computers, make copies and study,” said Cox. “…It’s really, I think, the heart of Ohio University.”

Since the opening of its doors on May 23, 1969, Alden Library has maintained its role as a premier location for learning and resources within the OHIO community. Updates in computers, software and media equipment have made the Library into an interactive learning space that provides the students and faculty access to some of the best electronic resources available.

In the past 200 years, the Libraries have amassed three million volumes of books, one million volumes of electronic books and 90,000 other electronic resources. In addition to digital resources, which can be accessed remotely from anywhere in the world, the Libraries’ services have been expanded to fit the varying needs of students through online tools such as video tutorials, hundreds of subject and course guides and the option to chat with a librarian through the Libraries’ website.

Although we live in an age driven by digital technology, students have proven that they still value the Library as an indispensable part of their educational pursuits. Last year, the Libraries documented nearly two million entrances, making Alden Library one of the most heavily trafficked buildings on campus.

Looking back at the history of OHIO Libraries, it’s clear that the Libraries have changed in some ways, but in many ways, they have remained the same. Years ago and still today, the Libraries continue to inspire the memories that help to define the legacy of Ohio University for students, faculty and alumni.

Ohio University Communications and Marketing is providing this Compass series in partnership with University Libraries in honor of the Libraries’ 200th anniversary.