Skip to main content

University Libraries records

Identifier: A024

Scope and Content Note

This collection is arranged into four series. Series I. Office of the Dean includes Library executive summaries (the production of which was discontinued in 1985) and annual reports, Library budgets, the records of Library committees and associations, the records of University committees and groups, Library guides and handbooks, memoranda from the Dean of Libraries, Library newsletters, and subject files related to both the Library and the University.

The Library committees and associations include: the Library Administrative Group, the Assistant Librarians Group, the Library Automation Committee, the Library Exhibits Committee, the Joint Committee, the Library Advisory Committee, the Northeastern University Librarians Association, the Northeastern University Libraries Support Staff Association, the Northeastern University Staff Librarians Association, the Library Staff Development Committee, and the University Library Operations Committee. Of particular note are the records of the University Library Planning Committee, which was responsible for the planning and building of a new library building, Snell Library (see also the "Snell Library Building" Subject File). The University committees and groups include: the Academic Computing Advisory Committee, the Ad Hoc Committee on Affirmative Action, the Deans' Council, the Faculty Senate, the Technology Council, the Telecommunications Advisory Committee, the NUnet Library Resources Task Force, the University Council, and the University Undergraduate Curriculum Committee.

The memoranda from the Dean's Office document security and operational procedures, storage issues, workshops or conferences held at the Library or given by the Library staff, and maintenance issues. The newsletters include: "@ NU Libraries Faculty Newsletter" (2002-2004), "The Artful Dodger" (1976), "Computer Search Services" (1980-1986), "Cross Reference" (1969, 1971-1984), "The Flag" (2001-2006), and "Library Links" (1993-1997).

Series II. Library Departments and Other Units includes the records of many Library departments, including: Acquisitions, Advancement and Marketing, Archives and Special Collections, Cataloging, Circulation, Collection Development, Documents/Microforms, Information Commons, Instruction, Interlibrary Loan, Processing, Reference, Reserves, Selections, Serials/Periodicals, and Technical Services. Of note are the records of the Archives and Special Collections Department's NHPRC grant, including records of the advisory boards, collection recruitment information, reports submitted to the NHPRC, and promotional materials.

This series also include records of NU divisional libraries and branch libraries, including: the African-American Institute Library, Boston-Bouvé School Libraries, Burlington Campus Library, Dedham Campus Library, Chemistry/Biomedical Sciences Library, Curriculum Library, Marine Sciences Library, Mathematics/Psychology Library, Music Library, Nursing Library, Physical Therapy Library, Physics/Electrical Engineering Library, Rehabilitation Library, and Law Library. Other units represented include: the F. Andre Favat Center (including accession lists, acquisitions lists, annual reports, brochures, budgets, donations, events, and policies), the Media Center, the Peer Tutoring Center (including brochures, College Reading & Learning Association training and certification, and statistics), and the Office of Learning Resources (OLR) which was originally called the Office of Educational Resources. The OLR oversaw the Learning Resource Center before the OLR and Library merged. The OLR material includes: records of the advisory board, annual reports, brochures, budgets, resource guides, instructional materials catalogs, memoranda, newspaper clippings, objectives and functions of the OLR, an organizational history, policies and procedures, publications, reports and statistics, and staff job descriptions.

Series III. "Meet the Author" Events contains audio and video recordings of events organized by the Libraries' Advancement and Marketing Department in which authors of recently published, noteworthy books of all genres give readings and discuss their works.

Series IV. Memorabilia includes Northeastern University and University Libraries promotional items such as a mouse pad, carabiners, and a t-shirt. Researchers should note that box 50 no longer exists, the box contained "The Fabric of Northeastern" quilt which is currently on display on the second floor of Snell Library. The quilt was created in honor of the University employees who donated $500 or more during the Campus Campaign. The quilt was created by Cassandra Gordon, and it was on display in Snell Library from September 19, 1990 to July 2, 2012 until it was removed during renovations. The quilt was re-displayed on January 2, 2015.


  • Creation: 1913-2012
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970s-1990s


Language of Materials

The materials in the collection are entirely in English.

Conditions Governing Access:

Records are closed for 25 years from the date of their creation unless researchers have written permission from the creating office.

Conditions Governing Reproduction and Use:

Copyright restrictions may apply.

Historical Note

The development of the Northeastern University (NU) Libraries began with the birth of the University in 1898 as part of the Young Men's Christian Association (YMCA). The NU Library grew out of an informal collection of books housed at the Berkeley Street YMCA; by 1929, the number of people taking courses offered by the YMCA had drastically increased, so the Library was formed; the collection at that time included 12,740 books. In the mid 1930s, Myra White was appointed the first NU librarian to care for the growing book collection. Through White's efforts, the collection grew to meet the needs of University students.

Due in large part to the overflow of books and materials and the YMCA's need for extra space, by 1953 NU had its own library building on campus, later named Dodge Hall. With this change in location came a change in the library's administration; Roland H. Moody came from Harvard's Lamont Library to become the first Director of Northeastern's library. Together with his newly appointed assistant librarian Albert M. Donley, former librarian of the Dedham Public Library, Moody led Northeastern's Library in a period of expansion and reorganization that reflected the educational aims of the University. Collection size more than doubled, staff and budgets grew, and the Library engaged the NU community by offering workshops on using the Library and by providing Library liaisons to academic departments in order to increase faculty involvement in collection development. The Library's growth and outreach stemmed from the belief of the administration that "the Library is a service organization in which students, faculty, and the community should all be active participants" (Frederick, Emerging Giant, 273).

On October 28, 1959, the Library was officially dedicated Dodge Library, named after Robert Gray Dodge who gave the first lecture at Northeastern's Law School in October, 1897, marking the University's beginning. In the 1960s, the Commonwealth granted Northeastern the right to award graduate degrees; this led to an expansion of the library system. In 1961, doctoral programs in chemistry and physics were established. In response to this new need for research materials, Dodge Library opened its first graduate research division. 1966 saw the opening of the Charles A. Dana Research Building and the establishment of the second graduate research library housing physics and electrical engineering collections. Two years later, in 1968, the third graduate research building opened, Edward L. Hurtig Hall, which housed materials on chemistry, chemical engineering, and allied health services. Along with these new libraries, NU established the Boston-Bouvé department in Dodge Hall, the Burlington Campus Library (1964) with funds from the Lufkin Trust, and the Marine Science Institute Library in Nahant. Northeastern Library's in-house expansion was completed in 1963 when it was designated an official repository of government documents under the 1962 Federal Deposit Library Act. With this new status, Northeastern joined MIT and Harvard as the third Boston-area university to receive such documents.

The size of the Library's monograph and periodical collections continued growing. At the same time, other media were added to the collection. In 1953, the Library accepted the responsibility of caring for a small audiovisual collection, but by 1964 the material had grown to unmanageable proportions, so a separate Programmed Instruction Collection was established over which the Library had limited control. Two years later, in 1966, the Learning Resources Center was created, followed almost immediately by the autonomous Office of Learning Resources, which removed responsibility for materials other than monographs and serials from the Library. Less than a decade later, in 1975, it was reunited with the Library, and Moody became Dean of University Libraries and Learning Resources.

With the explosion of computer technology, Northeastern Libraries automated. In the mid 1960s, the first computer system was introduced for government documents. On the heels of this development was the 1967 installation of a computerized acquisition system that allowed librarians to select, order, and process books online. A year later an automated circulation system was introduced, and the 1970s brought additional computer terminals for staff access to OCLC (the Online Computer Library Center). The last step in this initial automation effort came in 1973 when Northeastern joined the Boston Library Consortium. In 1974, Cataloging Librarian Alan Benenfeld created the 1,000,000th record added to OCLC; in honor of this, Benenfeld received the OCLC Gold Record award at the annual American Library Association conference of that year. Benenfeld would later become NU's Dean of Libraries.

By 1976, students at Northeastern felt they had outgrown Dodge Library, which had been established before Northeastern developed as a graduate research facility. To meet their greater research needs, the students called for a new facility to be built. The university responded by launching a building design competition in 1981 under the direction of the University Library Operations Committee. In January, 1983, the committee selected the plan proposed by the Architects Collaborative of Cambridge, and the fundraising process began. Due to the efforts of NU President Kenneth G. Ryder, the federal government gave Northeastern $13.5 million for a new facility. Additionally, the NU Century Fund Phase II (1987-1991) raised a total of $175 million of which $62 million went directly to the Library building project.

While fundraising was still ongoing, on October 4, 1987, Northeastern held the ground breaking ceremonies for the new building, which would later be named Snell Library. The ground breaking was overseen by the new Dean of the Libraries, Alan Benenfeld, who succeeded Dean Moody in 1984; Dean Benenfeld came to Northeastern from UCLA where he had been coordinator of Physical Sciences and Technology Libraries, and he had previously worked at the NU Libraries as a Librarian in the Cataloging Department. Just as Library facilities underwent change, so too did the administrative structure evolve under Dean Benenfeld; he restructured the library administration with the addition of two associate deans: Associate Dean of User Services and Associate Dean of Technical Services. The fall of 1990 saw the completion of the new building and its dedication; the $35 million Library and Resource Center was named after George Snell to honor his $1,000,000 donation, the largest single alumni donation in Northeastern's history at the time.

In 1994, Joan D. Krizack became the first professional University Archivist and Head of Special Collections. In 1998, the Archives and Special Collections Department received a two-year grant of $153,000 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission (NHPRC) to fund the Department's efforts to preserve the history of Boston's under-documented communities. Krizack directed the project to identify, acquire, and make accessible materials representing the African American, Chinese, Puerto Rican, and gay and lesbian communities of Boston. Since the beginning of the project, the targeted communities have evolved; what began as an effort to document the Puerto Rican community has expanded to become an effort to document the larger Latino community, the effort to document the gay and lesbian community has expanded to include all LGBTQ (lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and questioning) communities, and the effort to document the Chinese community has grown to include all Asian American communities. The Department's efforts to help preserve the history of the four communities continue.

In 1999 and 2000, the NU Libraries staff selected a new integrated library system (ILS), Innovative Interfaces Inc.'s Millennium Software still in use by the Libraries as of 2012.

Chronology of Deans

Myra White, Head Librarian
Roland H. Moody, Director
Roland H. Moody, Dean
Alan Benenfeld, Dean
Filippa Anzalone, Acting Dean
Edward Warro, Dean
William Wakeling, Acting Dean
William Wakeling, Dean


47.15 cubic feet (52 containers, 45 flat file folders, 4 art files)


The Northeastern University (NU) Libraries began as a small collection of books that comprised the library at the Berkeley Street YMCA. Myra White was appointed the first NU librarian in the mid-1930s. By 1953, NU had its own library building, Dodge Hall. Roland H. Moody became the first director of NU's library and led the library in a period of expansion and reorganization that reflected NU's educational aims; collection size more than doubled, staff and budgets grew, and the library engaged the NU community by offering workshops about library use and by providing library liaisons to academic departments. In 1959, the library was named the Dodge Library after Robert Gray Dodge, who gave the first lecture at NU's Law School in October, 1897. In 1963, the NU Library became an official repository of government documents. In 1966, the Learning Resources Center was created, which removed responsibility for materials other than monographs and serials from the library. In 1975, the Center was reunited with the library, and Moody became Dean of University Libraries and Learning Resources. Beginning in 1981, NU began campaigning for a larger library facility. The new $35 million library and resource center was completed in the fall of 1990 and was named after George Snell to honor his donation, the largest single alumni donation in Northeastern's history at the time. In 1994, the first professional archivist was hired, and in 1998 the Archives and Special Collections was awarded a two-year grant of $153,000 from the National Historical Publications and Records Commission to fund the Department's efforts to preserve the history of Boston's under-documented communities.


The records of the Northeastern University Libraries date from 1913 to 2012. They document the activities of the Office of the Dean, library committees and associations, library departments, and other units of the library system. Records include reports, budgets, meeting minutes, memoranda, guides and handbooks, newsletters, funding proposals, programs, bibliographies, manuals, correspondence, newspaper clippings, and catalogs. Of particular interest are recordings of the "Meet the Author" events sponsored by the University Libraries Advancement and Marketing Department (see Series 3).

System of Arrangement:

The materials in the collection are arranged in four series: 1. Office of the Dean, 2. Library Departments and Other Units, 3. Author Talks, and 4. Memorabilia.

Technical Access:

The Programming and Communications Committee file backup discs (Series 2) contain outdated .fcp (Final Cut Pro) files that are not viewable with current software available at Snell Library.

Physical Location

28/1-2, 35/3-4, 36/1, FF1/D4, FF2/D7, Art File 4


Further accruals are expected.

Related Materials


  • Frederick, Antoinette. Northeastern University: An Emerging Giant, 1959-1975. Boston: Northeastern University Custom Book Program, 1982.
  • Frederick, Antoinette. Northeastern University, Coming of Age: The Ryder Years, 1975-1989. Boston: Northeastern University, 1995.
  • Marston, Everett C. The Origin and Development of Northeastern University, 1989-1960. Boston: Northeastern University, 1961.


Finding aid for the University Libraries Records
Finding aid prepared by Abigail Cramer; updated by Caitlin Birch
November 2012, January 2014
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the Northeastern University Archives and Special Collections Repository

Snell Library
360 Huntington Avenue
Boston MA 02115 US