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A Pictorial History of Samford University Library

Howard's first librarian Samuel S. Sherman
Sherman's wheelbarrow of books

The library at Howard College began with a gift from the Alabama Baptist State Convention in 1842. Howard's first president, Samuel S. Sherman 1842-1852, was personally involved in developing the collection by going door to door in Marion, Alabama, with a wheelbarrow asking for donations.

Cadets at East Lake Campus

In 1850, the library reported in the Report on the Public Libraries of the United States of America to have 1,500 volumes. The library was open for research one day a week for 30 minutes. In 1854, the library and all of its holdings were destroyed by fire. In 1855, the library was relocated to the Administration building, later pictured here in 1858 with cadets posing in front. The library was recognized as a government depository in 1884.

East Lake campus library in Montague Hall

In 1887, Howard College relocated to Birmingham. The library initially occupied one room of Montague Hall at the East Lake campus.

The first mention of a librarian was S. J. Ansley in 1900. A cataloging system was first used in 1917. Bibliographic Instruction began in the 1940's. By 1948 the library had grown to use the entire building.

Lakeshore campus and library

Interlibrary loan was first offered as a service in 1950.
In 1957, Howard College was moved to its present location on Lakeshore. The building that would house the library was completed by late 1956. The Executive Committee voted to name the building the Harwell G. Davis Library in April 1957.

library interior
study space

Here, students study in the new library building.

F. Wilbur Helmbold

F. Wilbur Helmbold, an alumnus of Howard College, was chosen for the position of head librarian at the new campus, following the departure of Mabel Willoughby, head librarian since 1931. He arrived on May 1, 1957, to begin his duties.

library reference department
student studying in stacks

Undated photographs show the Reference Dept. and a student studying in the stacks.

Hudnall Library
Hudnall Library

In 1993, the north wing of the library was added increasing the library capacity by 50%.


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