Courtright Memorial Library Celebrates 50th Birthday with New 24-Hour Lockers
Posted Apr 07, 2022
Otterbein University’s Courtright Memorial Library opened in 1972. This week, it held a party to celebrate its 50th birthday and to give a present to the Otterbein community — lockers that allow users to pick up library materials at any time.
The new automated lockers offer convenience to students whose classes and jobs may not allow them to pick up necessary items during the library’s regular hours of operation.
“We are honoring our history of being student-focused by providing this new service to our community,” said Library Director Tiffany Lipstreu. “We saw a need and implemented an innovative solution. These smart lockers are popular with major online retailers, and while not yet being utilized by many academic libraries, we — through a generous LSTA ARPA grant provisioned through the State Library of Ohio — are leading the way in doing so. That is something Courtright Memorial Library has done consistently over the past 50 years.”
The Otterbein library has been through many transformations. Before Courtright Memorial Library opened 50 years ago, Otterbein’s collection was located in Clippinger Hall (now the Office of Admission) and at the back of Towers Hall.
When Otterbein was established in 1847, there was no place to house the University’s small collection of books. In 1851, space was set aside in the “main building” on campus for the library, which had collected between 300 and 400 books by 1853. In January of 1870, the original main building of the campus burned to the ground. The entire collection of the library, some 3,000 volumes, were lost, including a rare hand-bound copy of the Sinaitic manuscript, donated to the college by the Tsar of Russia.
When Towers Hall was completed, two rooms were set aside for the library, which by 1876 had grown to approximately 1,000 volumes. In the 1880s, the library was open for use only one hour each week.
In 1908, Otterbein received a gift from philanthropist Andrew Carnegie to build Clippinger Hall — one of 1,689 “Carnegie libraries” to be built in the United States. Otterbein’s library only provided 90 seats.
In December of 1953, the Otterbein collection moved into the new Centennial Library, which was built onto the back of Towers Hall. It had a 160-seat reading room, shelving for Otterbein’s 44,178 books and periodicals, and room for growth.
Still, the University’s collection outgrew this space, and less than two decades later, a dormitory on the northwest corner of Grove and Main streets was demolished to make way for the library building we know today.
The new library was opened for use in January 1972 and was officially dedicated on May 6, 1972. Until 1979, the Courtright Memorial Library was just “the Library,” leading student pranksters to label other things nearby, like “Tree” and “Bench.”
In 1979 it was named Courtright Memorial Library thanks to a generous donation by A. Monroe Courtright, Class of 1940, in memory of his parents, Robert and Ada Courtright. Monroe Courtright was the owner and publisher of the Westerville newspaper, The Public Opinion, and was actively involved with Otterbein.
Today, Courtright Memorial Library is open to students, faculty, staff, and community members, and serves over 250,000 people per year.
The library has kept up with technology through the years, moving from microfilm to online databases, and video reels to streaming films.
“Courtright Memorial Library is always evolving and innovating,” said Lipstreu. “As the needs of our users change, we ask and listen, which results in changes to our policies and services.”
Services include textbook affordability initiatives and memberships that expand users’ access to the materials they need. The library is a member of the OPAL, OhioLINK, and SearchOhio consortia, which provide access to hundreds of electronic databases and millions of books, eBooks, and journals.
Otterbein’s in-house collection includes books, music, games, DVDs, and many types of equipment such as laptops, cameras, and even bicycles.
Courtright Memorial Library is home to the Otterbean Café, Academic Support Center, Math Lab, Writing Center, Center for Teaching and Learning, University Archives, and Becker Gallery, a small art gallery on the lower level.
There are reading and meeting rooms, computer labs, and an entire floor dedicated to silent study.
You can explore all the library’s services at www.otterbein.edu/library.