About the Libraries


Welcome to NDSU Libraries!

We provide stimulating and inviting environments that nurture curiosity, help students achieve academic success, and create lifelong learners. Come visit the Libraries at one of our on- or off-campus locations, check out our collections and resources, or contact a subject librarian to learn how we can enhance your experience at North Dakota State University. Whether in person or online, the Libraries are here to serve you!

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History of NDSU Libraries

Putnam Hall, NDSU's original library building 
Image courtesy NDSU Archives.

Although library service began in 1891 with the appointment of Mrs. C.B. Waldron (Lois Hooper) as librarian, the North Dakota Agricultural College Library did not have a building of its own until 1905.  Before the library building was erected, the library collection was housed in the President’s Office in Old Main. Mrs. Percy Evans, who was also postmistress, took over as head librarian from 1893-1897, but it was not until Ethel McVeety arrived in 1897 that the library was on its way to being properly organized. McVeety brought in card cabinets and began cataloging, organizing, and classifying the 3,100 volumes.  She then attended library school in 1903 and 1905 in Madison, Wisconsin to learn the newest techniques in library organization and management.

As enrollment grew, the library struggled to house its ever-increasing number of volumes. Through the diligent efforts of President John H. Worst and generous donations from Andrew Carnegie, a new library building was erected in 1905; dedication ceremonies took place on January 18, 1906. The new library building, which would later be known as Putnam Hall, was the first Carnegie-funded academic library in North Dakota.

In 1913, incoming freshman took a one-credit Library Methods course, which helped them become acquainted with research techniques.  A reservation system was set up in 1923, as by then the library was so crowded that every chair was occupied and up to 25 students were sitting on the steps or standing in order to use the facility. By 1926, twenty years after its dedication, the library housed almost 40,000 volumes for 1,117 students. By the time McVeety retired in June of 1945, the library contained almost 80,000 volumes.

In 1944, Elliot Hardaway (MS, University of Illinois), was appointed head librarian with the understanding that a new library building would be constructed as soon as possible. Along with Professor Knute A. Henning, he drew up plans for the new library building while administrators tirelessly solicited funds.  In 1947, with the new building still three years away, Hardaway resigned.  H. Dean Stallings (MS, University of Illinois) succeeded Hardaway in 1947, and planning for the new building continued.

With $500,000 granted by the 1945, 1947, and 1949 North Dakota Legislative Assemblies, construction on the new library building began in 1949.  The building currently known as the Main Library was dedicated on October 6, 1950.  Spreading over 58,000 square feet and with a seating capacity of 500 students and room for 300,000 volumes, the building was praised for its functional design.  The new library building included reading rooms, staff and faculty lounges, conference rooms, multiple study unit cubicles, an order and catalog department, a periodical check-in room, public card catalogs, and a circulation area.

Dedication of the new library, 1950 
Image courtesy NDSU Archives.

In 1966, Stallings left the university and Barbara Wetterstrom became acting director of the library during the 1966-67 school year. In 1967, Kilbourne L. Janacek (MLS, University of Denver) was appointed library director; during his tenure, many changes took place.  In the late 1960s, the Dewey Decimal System was abandoned in favor of the Library of Congress classification system.  The architecture, chemistry, and pharmacy libraries became branch libraries under the library administration in 1969. In 1975, the research collections of the North Dakota Institute for Regional Studies became part of the library.

By the early 1970s, the need for additional library space became apparent. A major renovation in 1974 allowed more space for students and shelving, but the new design did not accommodate the growing needs of the university for long. In 1975, NDSU requested funding from the Legislative Assembly for a substantial addition to the overcrowded building. With a $2.7 million-dollar appropriation, planning began for a 41,000 square foot addition.

On May 23, 1980, thirty years after the original library building opened, the new addition was dedicated. Dr. Beverly P. Lynch from the University of Illinois was the featured speaker, and both she and Senator Quentin N. Burdick were given honorary doctorates from the university. The addition accommodated up to 700 readers and could house 400,000 volumes as well as government documents, maps, periodicals, audio-visual materials, and microforms. The addition also included a self-contained 24-hour study room. That same year, staff began developing an on-line cataloguing system.

In 1986, after 19 years as director of libraries, Janacek retired. John W. Beecher, (MLS, University of Illinois) succeeded him and served as director for 11 years. Beecher supervised a reorganization of the library in 1988 that focused on service and integration of the latest technology. After his resignation in 1997, Dr. Richard W. Bovard, professor of English, was appointed as interim director.

In June 2000, Pamela Drayson was hired as director. Shortly after becoming director, Drayson faced a crisis. During the night of June 19 and the morning of June 20, 2000, three super cells dumped over seven inches of rain on the Fargo-Moorhead area. Every building on campus sustained damage, but the Main Library was hit hardest. The windows on the basement of the new addition gave way, flooding the basement with over three feet of water. For over year, Drayson focused her attention on rebuilding the Main Library. It was during her tenure that the title of the head of the Libraries was changed from director to dean.

After Drayson left in 2006, Dr. James Council, professor of Psychology, was appointed Interim Dean. After an extensive national search, Michele Reid became Dean of Libraries in 2008. She accepted a University Fellowship position on January 1, 2014. On January 17, 2014, Michael J. Robinson, Interim Associate Director of the Libraries and Director of the NDSU Archives, was named Interim Dean of Libraries.

Bridget J. Burke became Dean of Libraries in September 2014. Burke was previously Associate University Librarian for Special Collections and the Digital Library at Boston College. She left NDSU in 2016 to become Director of the University of Wyoming’s American Heritage Center. Joe Mocnik joined the Libraries in January 2017 as its new Dean. Previously he was Director of University Library at Georgia College and State University.  Mocnik left NDSU in June 2021 to become Dean of Libraries at Kansas State University.  Hallie Pritchett, Associate Dean of Libraries for Research and Learning, was named Interim Dean of Libraries in July 2021. On June 1, 2022, Dr. Jolie O. Graybill was appointed Dean of Libraries. Dr. Graybill, whose career focused on higher education and land-grant institutions since 1992 and academic libraries since 2005, was most recently Assistant Director for Digital Initiatives and Metadata Education at the University of Minnesota Libraries, Minitex since 2014.

Today, NDSU Libraries serves a student population of over 13,000.  Its collections include over a million physical items (books, journals and periodicals, maps, government documents, audio-visual materials, and microforms), over 200 databases, and over 400,000 e-books and e-journals.