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Mardigian Library | University of Michigan-Dearborn Archives

Name: Mardigian Library
Fuller Form: Edward and Helen Mardigian Library

Historical Note:

The University of Michigan-Dearborn has had a campus library since its infancy. The library was first located in the Student Activities Building (now the Administration Building).  Basic materials were purchased in the fall of 1958 and the library opened for business when classes began on September 28, 1959.

William E. Stirton, first director of the “Dearborn Center,” named Donald E. Vincent as the first head librarian. He held that position from 1959-1961.  Lynn Barlett was head librarian during 1962-65,* followed by Harold Young, who was head during1965-66.* Donald Dennis served from 1966-68*.  C. Edward Wall held that position from 1968 until he retired in August of 1984. During his tenure the new library building was designed and built.  Shirley Smith, former assistant director, served as interim director from fall 1984 until she was officially appointed director in the summer of 1985.  During Smith’s tenure, the library developed an online public catalog, purchasing the GEAC Library Information System in 1986.  Smith retired in 1988. In 1989, Chancellor Blenda J. Wilson appointed Timothy F. Richards III as director. He retired June 30, 2011. During his tenure, the library  purchased a new online catalog from Innovative Interfaces, Inc. of California.  Many other innovations were developed during what has been period of rapid technological transformation in libraries generally. Elaine Logan became director October 1, 2011.

The library collection grew from 50,000 volumes in 1973 to more than 220,000 by the fall of 1980. The collection at that time also included 250,000 microforms, 25,000 annual reports, 6,000 recordings and 6,000 miscellaneous boxes. The collection is currently about 350,000 volumes.

Interest in building a library developed early in the university’s history. The Michigan State Senate appropriated planning money for a new library in 1972.  In June of 1974, the Regents approved a five-year capital development plan for the university, which included the library. Things moved slowly until 1977, when Chancellor Leonard Goodall rejected a task force recommendation that called for a shared library between the Dearborn Center and Henry Ford Community College.  In 1978, bids were taken for the new library building, and the long-awaited groundbreaking occurred on October 17, 1978. The new library opened on a limited basis in 1980.  It was dedicated on April 11, 1981. Terrence H. Bell, U.S. Secretary of Education, was the speaker on that occasion.  The building, designed by Charles W. Sherman Associates, Inc., has four stories, 114,889 square feet, and cost $10,200,000.  It has a seating capacity of 1200 and a shelving capacity of 350,000 volumes.The building was known as the Dearborn Campus Library or the University Library.

Ed Wall is an art collector, and during his tenure the university began collecting art, and to display it in both the old and the new libraries as well as in venues around campus. On March 31, 1983, a stained-glass piece by Vera Sattler was hung in the foyer of the new library in memory of UM-D librarian, Diane Culp.  From the 1980s on, artists like Aviva Robinson, Electra Stamelos, and glassmaker Dale Chihuly displayed work at the library, which is still home to the university’s art collection (see Chancellor’s papers, the Alfred Berkowitz Gallery papers, and the Art Museum Project papers for more information on the Art Gallery and collection).

In 1986 Edward and Helen Mardigian contributed the largest financial gift the University of Michigan-Dearborn had received up to that point. In honor of their gift, UM-D rededicated the library on June 7, 1987, and renamed it the Edward and Helen Mardigian Library.  The Mardigian family continues to support the library.

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