Sixty years ago today, on September 7, 1948, Firestone Library, the University’s central main library, opened its doors to the public. The opening capped a process of analysis, planning, fund-raising, design, and construction stretching back into the early 1920s when it first became evident that Pyne Library, constructed 1896-97, was running out of space.
According to Meg Rich’s “Firestone at Fifty: History with a Human Face,” Princeton University Library Chronicle 60:1 (Autumn, 1998), p. 9 ff, during the summer of 1948, “thirty-seven undergraduates, 90 percent of them war veterans, worked for ten weeks to move the better part of 1.2 million volumes over a 100-yard ramp from old shelves to new.” The names and classes of all students involved appears together with their group photograph on page 19. [NB – When the author published this article she was known as Peggy Meyer Sherry.]
The photograph above right show students moving books from the dismal basement of Pyne. Adjacent is an early photograph of the front elevation of Firestone.