Smith College Admission Academics Student Life About Smith news Offices
Five College Calendar
Smith eDigest
Submit an Idea
News Archive
News Publications
Planning an Event
Contact Us
News & Events
By Mary Irwin, libraries   Date: 5/24/10 Bookmark and Share

100 Years at the Center of Campus

Library staffers then (1954) and now (click on image for larger view).

This Thursday, May 27, fittingly marks the end of a memorable year. May 27, 1910, was the date on which the Smith Library (later named Neilson) was officially dedicated. This year, punctuated with lectures, musical performances and a major retrospective exhibition, celebrated the library’s 100-year anniversary.

The ceremony was recorded in the June 1910 issue of the Smith College Monthly magazine: "On Friday afternoon, May 27, at half after three the formal opening of the Library took place in Assembly Hall. Members of the New England Library Association were present, as well as the faculty, students and friends of the college. President Seelye prefaced the dedicatory speech by giving a short history of the growth of our library..." D.W. Dawson Johnston, librarian of Columbia University, spoke on "Ideals in Library Administration” for the occasion. Miss Clark, head librarian, spoke as well on the need for additional monies for the library endowment.

A few months later, President Seelye wrote about the final achievements of his term in office, the Library and the Assembly Hall: “These two buildings are the most expensive and, in many respects, the most satisfactory of any on the campus. The Library provides ample space for the storage of books…and more space than is usual for readers.” The Assembly Hall was named for John M. Greene in 1911. In 1946, following the sudden death of William Allan Neilson, the Library was named in his honor.

Today, the four Smith College Libraries collectively house 1.5 million volumes with 1.2 million additional items in other formats (manuscripts, maps, DVDs, etc.). The Libraries also provide access to more than 140 scholarly electronic databases in all the major disciplines taught at Smith.

View historical images of Neilson Library.


DirectoryCalendarCampus MapVirtual TourContact UsSite A-Z