Farewell to Ward Edwards Library

Imagine this: librarians, students, faculty, the entire campus all excited about moving into a beautiful huge new library building. Months have been spent preparing the collections and planning the move. Is the year 1999? Yes, and also 1939, the year the library moved from the first floor north end of the Administration Building to the original Ward Edwards building. For this library move, however, student workers were paid 25 cents per hour to transport the library collection, then numbering near 50,000 volumes, to its new home.

In 1937 Central Missouri State Teacher's College received state funding for new buildings. These funds, combined with $90,000 from a federal WPA grant, were used to provide the college with a library building and a gymnasium. The Ward Edwards Library was built on the north edge of campus completing the quadrangle formed by the Administration Building on the east, the training school for teachers and adjacent science building (now together known as the Humphreys Building) on the south, and the Industrial Arts Building (now gone) on the west. The building was named after Ward Edwards, the library director who died in the spring of 1938, one year before the new library opened.

The building was equipped with shelving to hold 86,000 books, but had been designed to eventually accommodate a staggering 200,000 volumes. Its futuristic design boasted a rudimentary air conditioning system for the comfort of users. The Remington Rand Company of Buffalo, New York, created custom furnishing for the new building. It also featured custom-made lighting fixtures which are now located in the Alumni Memorial Chapel. The new building had space for displaying an antique schoolroom and rooms for the distribution of textbooks.

A prominent feature in the original building was a statue of The Thinker poised on the main staircase directly across from what used to be the main entrance on the south side of the building. Just as much a fixture was Mr. Doaks, who worked in the library for years as the building security guard. He also sat at the main entrance and before anyone left the building checked their book bags.

At that time, overdue fines for a circulating book were 3 cents per day. Library hours during the quarter were 6:45 a.m. to 10:00 a.m., and 11:00 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., except for shorter hours on Friday and Saturday. The library was closed on Sunday.

Over the years, the building gained two major additions and one extra heating and cooling system.Now sixty years later we have left the building, which no longer seems spacious and futuristic, and moved to a new facility which is as full of promise as the old building ever was.