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Libraries at Binghamton University records

Identifier: BUA-0032

Scope and Contents

This collection contains the records of the Binghamton University Libraries.

The collection documents the varied work of the University Library, including events, programming planning and assessment, public relations campaigns, budgets and financial planning, circulation, collection development, disaster planning, exhibits, online discovery, inter-library loans, data management, special collections, teaching and reference, building maintanance, and orientation. The library building, Bartle Library, is particularly well documented with photos, floor plans, and renovation records. There is some materials related to the management of faculty and staff personell, especially through faculty committees and photographs of events. The changing technology of the library, especially with the introduction of a computerized catalog, is also documented.

As a department that works with the academic offices and faculty across campus, the Library records also document partnerships with other departments. Of particular note are reports of new and proposed programs, especially new graduate degrees, which the library collected in order to respond to changing resource needs in the University. In addition to these proposals, there is also a large amount of correspondence with various academic departments about aquisitions, especially during the reduction in the number of serial subscriptions during the SUNY budget crisis in the early 1990s.

The collection also documents the Library's relationships with other libraries and professional organizations, especially the SUNY consortium, Five Associated University Libraries (FAUL), the Research libraries Group (RLG), American Library Association (ALA) Association of College and Research Libraries (ACRL) Division, New York State Education Department, Broome County Public Library, and the South Central Regional Library Council (SCRLC).


  • Creation: 1959 - 2023


Conditions Governing Access

The collection is open for research use and has no known restrictions.

Historical Note

The Libraries offer diverse resources to support instruction and research. As of 2024, the collections include 3.2 million books and journal volumes, over 225 electronic databases and immediate access to thousands of journals digitally. The Libraries offer a wide variety of services, including research assistance, instruction, user-friendly interfaces, digital scholarship and preservation, scholarly communications, digital scanners, and resource sharing.

The Glenn G. Bartle Library, named after the University's first president, houses collections in the humanities, social sciences, government documents, mathematical and computer sciences, and Special Collections and University Archives. The Science Library contains materials in all science and engineering disciplines, as well as an extensive map collection. The Libraries’ Digital Scholarship Center is located on the second floor of the building. The University Downtown Center (UDC) Library supports the College of Community and Public Affairs. The UDC Library collection contains books, reference materials and regional government documents in the areas of community research, public administration, human development, social work, education and student affairs. The Collection Management Facility (CMF), located off campus, houses important, uncommon materials in the Libraries’ collections. The items include print journals and infrequently used book and book sets. The CMF ensures space on campus for newer and more heavily used materials.

From the 1989 "The SUNY-Binghamton Library: A Brief History," in the collection:

"In 1950, the new State University of New York acquired the plant and staff, but not the book stock, of postwar Syracuse University outpost, Triple Cities College, renaming it Harpur College. The small Triple Cities collection went back to Syracuse, and the library began again. For approximately 10 years it had a staff of 8 (4 librarians, 4 clerks), and an acquisitions budget of about $25,000 annually... In 1953 the Harpur library underwent its first move, from a college-owned mansion into larger pre-fab quarters, when it added to its 20,000 volumes the 20,000 acquired on the closing of Champlain College, a defunct sister unit.

"Herbert L. Leet was the Librarian until June 30, 1953. Josiah T. Newcomb was appointed librarian July 1, 1953, and served with distinction until his retirement in 1971. He oversaw an increase in the collection from 20,000 volumes to over 400,000, and from a staff of 8 to over 110.

"In 1960 a library of about 80,000 volumes moved to the present campus into quarters designed for a capacity of 300,000 volumes and 600 readers. Students complaining of the barrenness were informed in the campus paper it would not reach its planned book capacity for 50 years. A few Master's level programs were begum with a full complement planned for 1970, and the library recieved a capital grant of $50,000 a year for an initial three years to support them. By the end of 1961 the campus administration was drawing up plans detailing support needs for a 1970 enrollement of 5000 undergraduates... with Ph.D. programs underway or beginning in 21 disciplines. The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences was formalized, and in 1963 the library staff rose to 20, including several bibliographers, with a book budget of $140,000. The collection stood at 110,000. Other changes were felt: application was made for federal depository status, questions about departmental libraries began to surface, journals ceased to circulate, and the semester loan practice was under review.

"By 1965... a library plan to build its collection to one million volumes within a ten years had been accepted in principle, and the book budget rose to $500,000. The library abandoned Dewy classification for LC and began comprehensive efforts in automation as a way of coping with the enlarged scale of operations... Staff size began moving up sharply, largly in support of technical services.

"Collection strategy during this period was based on minimal duplication, acquisitions of journal backfiles, systematic checking of bibliographies for standard material useful to graduate courses being offered immediately (including heavy retrospective buying), and a strong collection of bibliographic tools to provide interlibrary loan access for more personalized research. This resulted in a fairly evenly developing collection without any specialized pockets of great depth, although a few private collections were acquired. As part of a conciousness of a new level of relationships, FAUL (Five Associated University Libraries- SUNY Binghamton, Syracuse, Rochester, Buffalo, and Cornell) came into being, and proved vital to the development of the library over the next decade. The PL-480 programs in Arabic and Hebrew were negotiated to support a Middle East area program. Heavy microform purchasing began, not only of such standard unpurchasable material as the Short Title Catalog, but also the beginnings of unique costellations of primary materials related to doctoral concentrations... Approval plans were introduced, partly as a labor-saving device and partly as a hedge against the loss of new titles in constricted years.

"Meanwhile, in a sometimes spasmodic, sometimes orderly fashion, the collection grew, crowding out most of the seating, then the reserve operation, and finally forcing the storage of some materials. A new wave of construction was underway to accomodate the enlarged student body as well. For the library, that meant planning for lower-division libraries in each of the five cluster colleges, a seperate science library in the new science complex, and a new graduate library for the humanities and social sciences, with conversion of the existing library into quarters housing a central reserve and core collection of 50,000 highly used titles. No departmental libraries were planned except for Music, already rapidly expanding into an area adjacent to the department.

"The 1970s brought the completion of most of this construction, freezes on program development, and a series of reviews resulting in a substantially modified campus mission. The library was charged to support the activities of a selective, not comprehensive, university... The library moved two of its collegiate units into their planned quarters... The Science Library was opened in 1973. The Music Library space was tabled and the core collection plan collapsed, leaving the "graduate" library to open as a general purpose humanities and social sciences complex. Breaks in management occurred for the first time since 1953 when Director Josiah Newcomb retired (6/31/71). Newcomb was succeeded first on an acting basis by Gregory N. Bullard (7/1/71-9/30/72), then by Willis Bridegam (10/1/72-7/31/75), who was appointed at the end of a three-year international search.

"Occupancy of the present building in 1974 and the changing character of the staff presented organizational problems, compounded by freezes and retrenched empty position. About 30% of the current staff pre-dated the 1970s, and new staff appointments had been largely at the junior level. Public services in the previous building had been limited because of space, and depended heavily on split bibliographer/reference personnel. Participatory managment and faculty status had diffused lines of authority, and shifting personnel depended heavily on informal systems for communications. Although cuts in the book budget had been restored (budget requests are now phrased in Voigt formula logic) and prospects appeared stable through the next five years, staff size had been reduced from its peak of 124 full-time positions to 110.

"During this period, Willis E. Bridegam resigned as Director of Libraries (7/31/75), and Ina C. Brownridge was appointed first as Acting Director (8/1/75-4/28/76), and then as Director of Libraries (4/29/76-7/14/87).

"With the collections almost totally rehoused in new quarters, the library faced the problems of making them workable, and of reshaping services around them and the new programs. Graphics were added to ease directional problems. An ambitious public services program was launched that included diverse forms of orientation. Audio equipment was added to the science and reserve reading areas. The financial retrenchments overtaking many colleges and universities in the United States during this decade first affected the library in the 1977/78 academic year, when there was a 4.8 percent cut in staff to 100 FTE staff lines. To cope with both staff cuts and a shortage of seats resulting from cancelled building plans, the library reorganized and relocated several departments to create expanded study areas.

"Working rapidly against staff shrinkage, which by fall of 1980 had reached 8.1 percent (or down to 106 FTE staff library-wide), the technical services division staged a series of special projects designed to reduce the cataloging backlog. Several large blocks of materials were, with the considerable assistance of the newly implemented computerized cataloging system, finally made fully accessible. A collection development coordinator developed a series of revised acquisition strategies concentrating on ensuring high priority for new scholarship.

"Following the university's new emphasis on community service, the library developed services for new clienteles. To the clinical campus it offered interlibrary loan and local materials delivery service; to the musical arts groups, it offered borrowing privileges from its extensive music collection; to industry, it offered the use of its computerized literature searching capability; to community friends who regarded the library as a cultural preservation center, it offered the opportunity to promote specialized resources through the Associates and their featured displays of unusual materials in the collection. It held a gala celebration to focus attention on the role Glenn G. Bartle played in changing the shape of Binghamton when it dedicated its largest building-- the Bartle Library-- to him.

"During this period, the staff of the library declined to a low of 93 FTE in the 1985/86 academic year, a loss of 22.2 percent from the 123.3 FTE in 1975/76. The collection passed its millionth volume in 1982, and increased its collection to 1,240,602 volumes in 1985/86, with a $2,134,000 acquisitions budget in 1986/87... Library automation, in the form of GEAC circulation and cataloging, was installed and supported to provide routine access to the collection for conventional library patrons, as well as for users from remote terminals on or off campus.

"Two associate directors were hired sequentially, Richard Anable (8/2/78-9/10/80) and Ted P Sheldon (6/1/81-8/26/83). Neither the incumbants, nor the position, survived the growing personnel tensions accompanying decreased staff resources and growing collection size and patron numbers, always with more sophisticated research expectations.

"In spite of these difficulties, the 1981/82-1985/86 period witnessed the largest evolutionary change yet in the SUNY Binghamton Library. The $2,000,000 goal for acquisition/access funds was reached in 1985/86. Membership in the Research Libraries Group, and a faculty circulation privilege agreement with Cornell, assured continuing access to other major and complementary collections, while participation in New York State's 3Rs network, SCRLC, continued on a modest basis.

"In 1985, the New York State Education Department implemented a preservation program for endangered collections. A $90,000 allocation was made to each of eleven research libraries, including SUNY-Binghamton.

"On Ina C. Brownridge's leaving the position in 1987, Albert A. Dekin, Associate Professor of Anthropology, served as Acting Director of Libraries (07/15/87-08/31/88). Eleanor L. Heishman was appointed Director/Librarian on 09/01/88.

"In 1988/89 the Libraries and the Computer Center pushed hard to implement ELIXIR, the new online catalog and circulation system and this was accomplished on May 22, 1989. A reorganization of the Library was begun with the formation of a Reference/Collection Development Unit and several new and vacant positions were filled with new staff. There were 104 FTE in the libraries at the end of the fiscal year. A comprehgensive review of all serial subscriptions with intensive involvement of academic faculty was undertaken in 1988/89. The review was to Identify those titles which were important to the academic programs and those which could be cancelled. Cancellation was neccesary because of the gap between costs and available funds."

In 1989, the library established a Disaster Recovery Planning Task Force established. In 1990, the NOTIS Multi-Database Access System was made available to the public in June. In 1992, additional shelving was installed on 3rd and 4th floors and the Fine Arts Library – resulting in shifting all of the collections in Bartle and the Fine Arts Library.

In 1993, the Internet-1 System was installed in both the Bartle and Science Libraries, the libraries’ hosted SUNYLA, Reference began offering e-mail services, and a map recataloging project was completed. The Library hosted a workshop for the History department to learn how to utilize the internet to email counterparts, connect to online library and archive catalogs worldwide, and how to access databases and journals. In 1993, Technical Service also reorganized to combine functions of 3 departments: Acquisitions Unit, Serials Unit, and Cataloging Services. A Database Maintenance Unit was created.

In 1994, the Library participated with other SUNY campuses on a project to share indexes to journals and newspapers, using linked online systems across the internet. In 1995, the library moved materials to a storage facility and the Departments in Information and Research Services reorganized into 2 departments: Bartle Reference and Collections and Science.

In 1996, a contract was awarded to construct a Science Classroom building adjacent to and on top of part of the Science Library that was underground. Also in 1996, the library established an instruction lab and completed a 2 year project to withdraw 15,000 volumes of journals from the Science Library and a storage area in Delaware Hall.

In 1998-2002, the library went through a major renovation of its building and acquired the Remote Library Storage Facility.

In 1998, the Library web team formalized – it was responsible for implementing the Libraries’ access to web-based electronic records and services. In 1999, the SUNYConnect project was undertaken to move to the new library computer system through Ex Libris.

In 2002, Eleanor Heishman retired from the Director position. In 2003, the Library participated in the Association of Research Libraries’ LibQUAL+TM survey and redesigned the website. John Meador became the new Library Director.

In 2005, the Library began social networking through the implementation of Library News and Exhibits and Science Library blogs, followed later by other additional blogs (Special Collections, Business Resource, Cinema, International Studies). Instant Messaging was also implemented and the library created Facebook pages.

In 2006, the Information Commons, a state-of-the-art, student-centered space with information and technology resources, opened in the Bartle and then at the Science Library. The Libraries’ held a Scholarly Communications Symposium, titled, "Funding Our Digital Future: Budgeting for Libraries & Scholarly Communication." The Department of Digital Initiatives was established.

In 2007-2008, a University Downtown Center Library opened and an Information Commons was created there. New circulations policies created that year included self-checkout machines, electronic reserves, laptop check-out, and wireless networking. Current newspapers, periodicals and microforms were relocated to the Newcomb Room freeing up the area for study space on the 2nd and 3rd floors of Bartle.

In 2008-2009, Library Annex implemented an electronic document delivery services and 20,000 volumes were added to the 300,000 volumes already housed at the Annex.

John Meador retired as Director in 2013, and Susannah Gal was appointed to serve as Interim Dean of the Libraries in 2014. In 2015, Curtis Kendrick was named new Dean of the Libraries.


30.75 Linear Feet (32 boxes, 1 roll, and 5 map case folders)

Language of Materials



This collection contains the records of the Binghamton University Libraries. The Libraries offer diverse resources to support instruction and research, as well as a wide variety of services, including research assistance, instruction, user-friendly interfaces, digital scholarship and preservation, scholarly communications, digital scanners, and resource sharing.


The collection is divided into 8 series, arranged alphabetically.


  1. Administrative records
  2. Building maintanance and renovation
  3. Department and committee records
  4. Digital files
  5. Director's records
  6. Photographs
  7. Research Library Group (RLG)
  8. Staff member records

Immediate Source of Acquisition

This collection was donated by the Binghamton University Libraries starting in 2001.

Related Materials

Academic and Administrative publications at Binghamton University contains newsletters and other publications produced by the Libraries.

Separated Materials

During processing in 2024, a large amount of material was weeded from the collection (approximateyl 10 linear feet). Due to privacy concerns, materials related to the payment of fines, overdue books, student workers, and employment of individual staff and faulty members were discarded. These materials included ledgers listing the names and fines of patrons, donated by Laurie Kolosky in 2024. Because of their low research value, materials related to minor repairs and renovation of the library buildings, as well as itemized financial records were removed. Since this collection documents the history of Binghamton University Library's history and not the history of libraries as a whole, articles and reports on other libraries and guides to common library software were also removed.

Two award plaques were removed, although photographs were taken before removal. These photographs are held with other digital materials for the collection.

Processing Information

In 2024, Madison White, Archival Processing Manager, processed this collection. The majority of the work carried out on the collection was weeding, particularly duplicates, unrelated materials, and sensitive personal information about patrons and staff. Materials were largely left in the order in which they were recieved, in the groupings/accessions that they came with. Because of this, accessions became series or sub-series, and the arrangement of material is largely by what office or person donated the materials. Materials that were left were added to the Administrative records series. A collection listing and finding aid was then created.

A small amount of newsletters and other library publications were moved to the Academic and Administrative publications at Binghamton University collection.



Guide to the Libraries at Binghamton University records
Madison White, Archival Processing Manager
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Binghamton University Libraries Special Collections Repository

Binghamton NY 13902 USA