The Richmond Register

November 5, 2012

Eastern opened new library in 1936, and its grandeur endures

By Fred Engle
Register Columnist

RICHMOND — In 1936 a new library opened on Eastern’s campus. An addition to the old library building, the new addition cost around $100,000.

There was a work room for cataloging, mending and book repairs, etc. It was served by a dumbwaiter. There were various new reading rooms, including one at the front of the building. The entrance to the librarian’s office was off from this room.

The main entrance was the one with columns. Books were checked out near this main entrance. The library had a training-school room, which I assume housed children’s books. This was called the children’s library.

The reference room on the second (now thought of as ground) floor was and still is a beautiful feature of the library.

Brown furniture combined with a ceiling of old ivory and soft tan shades. The ceiling was divided into panels supported by beams. A cornice in decorative plaster featured vermilion squares. The floor was cork tile. Long tables with attached lights were put in place.

This room once included the check out desk, but now serves as a quiet reading room and meeting room for press conferences and presentations. Look up at the ceiling the next time you visit the library. It is still impressive. When I was young, Mary Floyd was the librarian. Miss Ada Bartek came in 1906 as the first librarian.

Mention should be made of the John Wilson Townsend Collection, comprised of a variety of materials about Kentucky. Another library holding of note is the French Tipton Papers, an interesting collection of Madison County history materials.

Over the past 75 years, I have spent a great deal of time in this library. It is my favorite place on campus. I strongly suggest you spend some time yourself, exploring the resources of the Eastern library. It is a major repository of Madison’s heritage.

The library staff is knowledgeable, efficient and very friendly. Eastern considers the library a resource for the city and county as well as an educational resource of the university.

Much of the information for this article comes from the writings of Mary Floyd.

PUBLICATION NOTE:  Readers are reminded that a compilation of some 60 Richmond Register articles from over the last 40 years written by Dr. Grise and myself are now available in the paperback book “Madison’s Heritage Rediscovered.”

Combined with relevant photographs selected from Eastern’s Archives by my granddaughter, Kathryn Engle, who edited the volume, this book is available for $19.99 plus tax. Autographed copies may be found at the Richmond tourism office (Irvinton) on Lancaster Avenue, Clearsight Optometry and Baldwin CPAs on Main Street in Richmond. 

Autographed copies are also available by calling Kathryn Engle at 859-893-0947 or 623 1150. These books make excellent birthday or Christmas gifts for family or friends.