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The Way We Were

1962: Library books take flight

Beginning at 8 a.m. on a brisk Jan. 30, 1962, students gathered at the Clark Library to begin the arduous task of moving 80,000 volumes of books from the old library to the new Noble H. Getchell Library.

The event took place in the midst of the Cold War, and Dave Buchanan, Sagebrush managing editor, commented, “A Russian Soviet commissar happening on campus would have scurried back to Moscow quickly — reporting that Russian education must be accelerated even faster to keep pace with America. Any nation whose university students stagger around campus under loads of books must be a power to be reckoned with in academic circles.”

Campus living groups (Greek organizations and dormitory residents) were organized to tackle the colossal task. Sixteen of those groups were divided into four, two-hour shifts to complete the all-day project. Independent students were also invited to help with the move. Together, about 1,000 students helped in the effort.

Following completion of the job that was covered by television news as far away as Sacramento, volunteers were given free tickets to a post-football game dance held in the Dining Commons.

Carrying an average of 15 books per trip, the students saved the university an estimated $2,000 in transport costs.

Getchell Library cost $2.8 million to construct and, provided three times more room than Clark, and had the capability to hold 400,000 volumes of books.

— Brandon Stewart

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