Asee peer logo

History of the Georgia Tech Library, with Emphasis on the Crosland Era

Download Paper |


2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Columbus, Ohio

Publication Date

June 24, 2017

Start Date

June 24, 2017

End Date

June 28, 2017

Conference Session

Technical Session 3: History and Future of Engineering Librarianship

Tagged Division

Engineering Libraries

Tagged Topic


Page Count




Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


Lisha Li Georgia Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Lisha Li is the subject librarian for the School of Civil and Environmental Engineering. She is also the patent librarian, and Patent and Trademark Resource Center Representative at the Georgia Tech Library.

visit author page


Isabel M. Altamirano Georgia Institute of Technology Orcid 16x16

visit author page

Isabel Altamirano is the subject librarian for Schools of Materials Sciences and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Chemistry & Biochemistry, and Chemical and Bimolecular Engineering at the Georgia Tech Library.

visit author page


Bette M. Finn Georgia Institute of Technology

visit author page

Bette Finn is the subject librarian for the School of Electrical and Computer Engineering and the Georgia Tech Research Institute at the Georgia Tech Library.

visit author page

Download Paper |


This paper will examine the beginnings of the library at Georgia Tech in the early 20th century, the growth in the middle of the past century, and the new vision for this century. Most of the growth was seen during Dorothy Crosland’s time as the Library Director. This library is unique, because it is an engineering library providing service for a mainly engineering university.

The university began in 1888 but there was no library until 1889, when English Professor Kenneth Matheson allowed students to view his personal collection, which was later moved to the Administration Building. The first librarian, Madge Flynn, was hired in 1901 with Faculty Status. In 1907, Professor Matheson, who became the university president, was able to secure a $20,000 grant from the Andrew Carnegie Foundation to build a library.

Dorothy M. Crosland started working at Georgia Tech in 1925. Two years later, she was named as the fourth Librarian; this title was changed to Director of Libraries in 1953. She retired in 1971.

Crosland’s first major achievement was moving the collection from the Carnegie Library building. Under Crosland's leadership and fundraising efforts, two buildings were constructed. The Price Gilbert Library was dedicated in 1953 and the Graduate Addition was completed in 1968 and renamed the Crosland Tower in 1985.

Crosland’s second achievement was in collection development. In 1946, she received a Carnegie grant to travel to Europe in order to add to the collection. She returned with many issues of important scientific journals, which were unavailable during World War II. She also obtained additional grants from the Rockefeller Foundation, National Science Foundation, and Georgia Tech Alumni clubs to purchase scientific works. Based on the needs for patent services to the campus as well as to the southeast, Crosland initiated the process of joining the patent depository library program. She wrote to the Commissioner of Patents expressing the library's interests, and she also actively sought a grant to purchase the first batch (1925-1945) of patent documents for the library collection.

Another major milestone was Crosland’s role in establishing a graduate program in information science in what is now the College of Computing. The library received an NSF grant to teach scientific information literacy. Engineers, scientists, and librarians from all over the United States and parts of Europe attended the two conferences that Crosland and other Georgia Tech faculty organized. After these successful sessions, the School of Information Science began in 1963.

While renovations are ongoing at the Crosland Tower, some of the Library Next initiatives are being tested at Price Gilbert. When renovations at the Crosland Tower are complete, new services and space will be available, such as the Graduate Student Community and the Expert Consultation Center. The anticipated date of opening for the Price Gilbert portion of the library is 2020, fulfilling its new vision.

Li, L., & Altamirano, I. M., & Finn, B. M. (2017, June), History of the Georgia Tech Library, with Emphasis on the Crosland Era Paper presented at 2017 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Columbus, Ohio. 10.18260/1-2--28438

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2017 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015