Biographical / Historical
Prior to the completion of Starr Library in 1900 the college did not have a dedicated library. Painter Hall, the oldest extant building on campus, housed a small collection of volumes before the completion of Old Chapel. After the Civil War, both Painter Hall and Old Chapel housed volumes. Under President Brainerd Starr Library was completed and with it came over a century of renovation and expansion.
Starr Library grew steadily as the enrollment of the college grew. Shortly after the completion of Starr Library the college collection reached 25 thousand volumes. By 1926, Dr. M. Allen Starr (the son of the original donor, Egbert Starr) agreed to donate funds to construct two additional wings to accomodate the growing student body and college collection. The college collection grew from 40,000 volumes in 1921 to 140,000 volumes in 1941. The Abernethy collection of American literature, donated by Julian Abernethy in 1923, was housed in the new West wing of the library.
College growth after the Second World War called for an addition to the library once again. Between 1959 and 1962 the library underwent three phases of construction thanks to the fundraising efforts of Walter Brooker who was hired in 1956 to oversee fundraising and public relations. The final addition to Starr Library came in 1979 when the Meredith Wing was completed. The Meredith Wing added capacity for 200,000 more volumes (the library had a max capacity of 300,000 volumes prior) and space for 140 more seats for reading and study.
In the summer of 2004, the new Main Library was opened. This 143,000 square foot library replaced Starr Library and houses much of college's collection. Armstrong Library, located in Bicenntennial Hall, also contains over 100,000 volumes and 81,000 maps. In 2010, the Main Library was renamed the Davis Family Library after Jim Davis '66 and his family. The family had donated over $70 million by that time and are some of the college's biggest supporters.