People and Places of Dickinson

 Bosler Library c. 1935 - 1940
Photograph courtesy of the Dickinson College Archives

Also see: Bosler 1903 and Bosler 1950
This photograph was taken in the years before the Second World War and shows the interior of the James Williamson Bosler Memorial Library.  The woman behind the circulation desk in this photograph is Mildred C. Straka.  Miss Straka was a student at Dickinson College from 1934 to 1938 and became a member of the library staff in 1936 as a cataloguer. (See more below)

The Bosler Library building was completed on June 23, 1886, at a cost of $68,000 and was the gift of Mrs. Bosler in memory of her husband.  The building's original architect was Charles L. Carson who had been a student of Henry Hobson Richardson.  Alterations to the building, which were planned by William W. Emmart, started in April of 1940 and were completed by Founders Day on May 3, 1941.  These alterations included the enlargement of the building, the removal of the gothic tower, and the refacing of the entire structure with limestone in a Georgian style.  The early character, along with much of the ornateness of the original building, mostly disappeared.  The Library remained open during this time, although the reference and reserved collections were moved temporarily to Old West.

James W. Bosler Memorial Library

In 1965, adaptations were made to the upper level of the building, replacing the area of the  chapel, and incorporating it for library use.  Bosler Hall remained the site of the College library until 1968 when the Spahr Library was completed.  After the completion of the Spahr Library further alterations to the building were authorized in order to adapt the building for use by the Fine Arts, Modern Languages and Music departments.

The Boyd Lee Spahr Library was constructed between the years of 1966 and 1967.  But before the new Library could be put into use, it was necessary obviously to transfer the books and materials from Bosler Hall.  On October 12, 1967, classes were canceled for the day and the Dickinson College community, students and faculty, took part in the now legendary "Book Walk."  In seven and a half hours, a little over one thousand people transferred approximately ninety percent of the books in the old library to the new building.

Boyd Lee Spahr Library opened its doors for use by the Dickinson College community four days after the Book Walk took place; the building was dedicated on November 4, 1967.  The library is currently being expanded to include a new section that will be known as the Waidner Library.  Construction of the new library is expected to be completed for the 1998-99 academic year.

Boyd Lee Spahr Library
Boyd Lee Spahr and Waidner Libraries

Miss Mildred Straka graduated from the college in 1938 with an A.B. degree as a member of Phi Beta Kappa.  She had been initiated into the society of Phi Beta Kappa at the beginning of the second semester of her graduation year.  Miss Straka was employed by the college library until 1947, during which time she went on to earn a Bachelor of Science degree from Columbia University.  After spending eleven years as the cataloguer in the James Williamson Bosler Memorial Library, Mildred C. Straka left the college to pursue graduate work.
Although she does not appear in this photograph, May Morris was the librarian during the time that it was taken.  After graduating from Dickinson College in 1909, she went on to graduate from Pratt Institute of Library Science in 1917.  May Morris became the librarian at Dickinson in 1927 after spending ten years on the library staff at Bryn Mawr College.  When she first came to the College, the priceless books that had survived from the collection of 1786 were scattered throughout the library stacks.  Miss Morris took on the task of locating and identifying each one of these.  In 1949, upon the recommendation of President William W. Edel to the Board of Trustees, she was promoted to the rank of professor emeritus, the second woman in the history of the college to receive this honor.  May Morris retired from her position during commencement ceremonies in 1956, but continued to remain active in the Dickinson College community.  She helped with the planning for the Boyd Lee Spahr Library and when ground was broken for the building she turned over the first spade full of earth.  On October 12, 1968, a room in the new library was dedicated to her which houses the Special Collections of the College, including the 1786 books that May Morris saved.

May Morris in 1940
  Elizabeth Flores

Charles Coleman Sellers Dickinson College: A History, Wesleyan, 1973
 James Henry Morgan, Dickinson College 1783 - 1933, Carlisle, 1933
Dickinson College Archives