Library History Chronology: 1879 – 2018
(The Local & National Educational Context)
The Texas State Legislature established the Agricultural and Mechanical College at College Station; and under the provisions of the Morrill Land Grant Act, authorized a similar school for Negro youth to operate. Under the management of the A&M College Board.
Mr. L. M. Minor was appointed the First Principal of Prairie View, and served until 1880.
The commission appointed to locate and build the “Agriculture and Mechanical College for Colored Youth” with a $20,000 appropriation turned the affairs of the college over to the A&M College Board, after purchasing the Alta Vista plantation of the late Colonel J. E. Kirby in Waller County, east of Hempstead.
The Fifteenth Texas State Legislature provided funds to initiate a library collection.
The Administration Building (Academic Hall)was constructed, and the first library collection of around 2,500 books was housed in a small room on the first floor.
Mr. E.H. Anderson was appointed the 2nd Principal of the College, and served until 1884.
Mr. L.C. Anderson was appointed the 3rd Principal of the College, and served until 1896.
An 1885-86 Report indicated that $19.00 was allocated for books.
The Administration presented a request to the State for a $500.00 appropriation to support the library.
Mr. E. L. Blackshear was appointed the 4th Principal of the College, and served until 1915.
Professor G. W. Buchanan, a mathematics instructor, manager of the commissary and the bookstore; Assumed responsibility of the Library Collection of several hum/red books.
Mr. I. M Terrell, was appointed the 5th Principal of the College, and served until 1918.
The “first” annual publication of “The Prairie” college yearbook was published, by the Senior class.
Dr. J. G. Osborne was appointed the Principal of the College, and served until 1925.
The “standards” of the normal school were raised and full College work was begun. B.S. Degree programs were offered in Education, Agriculture, Home Economics, and Mechanical Arts.
Mrs. Gertrude Williams, Commercial English Teacher, is appointed to serve as Librarian and teach English. She is cited as the ”first trained librarian” at Prairie View, and served 12 years, until 1931
The “first” College Class graduates from Prairie View, with five (5) students.
Library collection of around 7,000 volumes was moved to the east side of the first floor of the newly constructed Science Building.
Mr. P. E. Bledsoe, was appointed “acting principal” for one year.
The Graduating Class of 1925 had 50 students
Dr. W. R. Banks was appointed the 7th Principal of Prairie View.
The “second” annual yearbook, The Prairie was published by the Senior class.
The Graduating Class of 1926 had 52 students. The enrollment was approximately 1,000 students; the campus had 50 modern buildings, and over 200 teachers and instructors.
Mr. 0. J. Baker, B.A., B.L.S., M.L.S, was appointed Head Librarian; served a total of 37 years, over two separate terms, from 1931 to 1966, and again from 1968 to 1970. In 1931, the library collection was approximately 10,000 volumes and 3,000 unbound periodicals.
Library collection was moved to the third floor of the newly constructed Education Building.
Prairie View is selected as one of four Regional Centers for the “Negro Teacher-Librarian Training Program” (NTLTP: 1936-39). Virginia (Lacy) Jones was appointed as the Instructor for the Prairie View Center; and later served as the Dean of the Atlanta University School of Library Science (1945-1984).
The 48th Texas Legislature appropriated $160,000 for the construction of a library building, and added a supplement of $20;000 for equipment and books; an additional $20,000 was provided by the General Education Board, for a total building fund of $200,000.
The Department of Library Science is established as a unit of the Division of Arts and Sciences, and begins instruction leading to the B.L.S. degree, under the direction of the Head Librarian, Mr. O.J. Baker.
The “new” Library Building was completed for around $172,000; an “Open House” was held on May 20, 1945. The building was designed with a capacity for 100,000 volumes and seating space for 500 students.
The Department of Library Science was established in the Division of Arts & Sciences, and began offering the B.L.S. degree in Library Science. Mr. O.J. Baker, College Librarian, also served as Director of the Library Science Program.
The College was designated University status by the 49th Texas Legislature.
Mrs. J. Taylor, B.A. B.L.S. a recent graduate of the Atlanta University Library School is hired as Circulation Librarian by Mr. O.J. Baker. Mrs. Taylor serves as a Librarian at PVAMU for 63 year, until her death in April 2008.
Dr. E. B. Evans is appointed 8th Principal of the College.
Dr. E. B. Evans becomes the 1st President of the College. In the past, the President of A&M at College Station was considered as the President of Prairie View.
A 27,000 Sq. Ft. addition to the W.R. Banks Library was completed at a cost of $565,000, to expand the volume capacity from 100, 000 to 301,000 volumes.
Mr. Williams Scott, M.L.S., was appointed Head Librarian of the Banks Library, and serves until his death in 1968.
Mr. O. J. Baker, M.L.S. returns from retirement to serve once again as Head Librarian for two years. The Library Science Department is abolished as part of the Division of Arts & Sciences, and becomes a program of study for the B.L.S., in the School of Education
Mr. Frank Francis, M.L.S., appointed Library Director of the Banks Library; and serves until 1983.
The Learning Resources Center was established in the basement of the Banks Library; the first director was Harry Robinson, Jr.; and the University Archives was established under the direction of Mrs. Baker. The Library began conversion from Dewey to Library Congress (LC). The library collection was over 200,000 volumes.
The Library Science B.L.S. Degree program is closed at PVAMU, after 30 years of offering “library education,” and the awarding of over 200 library science (BLS) degrees.
Mrs. Joyce Thornton, M.L.S., serves as Interim Library Director, 1983-1984.
Dr. Donald Sweet was appointed Library Director of the W. R. Banks Library 1984-1986.
Ground-Breaking services for the “new library building” are held on July 18, 1986. Mr. Robert Wedgeworth, Dean of the Columbia University Library School, and former Executive Director of the American Library Association (ALA) was the keynote speaker. Mrs. Marion Williams served as chairperson for this event
Mrs. Joyce Thornton, M.L.S. , serves once again as Interim Library Director, 1986-87.
Dr. Adele Dendy was appointed as Director of Library Services of the W. R. Banks Library.
The construction of the “new” Library Building is completed at an estimated cost of 17 million dollars. and dedicated on November 13, 1988, as the John B. Coleman Library, in honor of Dr. John B. Coleman, the “first” black regent of the Texas A&M Board of Regents. The building was designed to hold 600,000 Volumes. Dr. Adele Dendy, Director of Library Services, coordinated the move from the W. R. Banks building, and the opening of the “new” building. Dr. Dendy served as Director until 1991. Dr. Percy Pierre was president of PVAMU.
Mrs. Helen Yeh, M.L.S., serves as Interim Library Director, John B. Coleman Library, 1991 to 1992.
Dr. Dudley Yates, was appointed Director of Library Services, and serves until 1997.
Mrs. Helen Yeh, M.L.S., serves as Interim Library Director, 1997 to 2000.
Dr. Frank Bruno, M.L.S., Ed.D. was appointed Director of Library Services, and serves until 2004.
Dr. George C. Wright was appointed President of Prairie View A&M University.
Mrs. Helen Yeh served as Interim Library Director, 2004-2005.
Dr. Rosie L. Albritton, Ph.D., appointed Director of Library Services of the John B. Coleman Library, and Tenured Professor of Educational Media & Technology, in the PVAMU School as of Education, as of September I, 2005. Academic credentials include a B.S. Degree, Tennessee State University; M.A., Governors State University; M.A., A.B.D., University of Chicago; M.L.S., University of Michigan; Ph.D., University of Illinois.
25th Anniversary of the John B. Coleman Library Building
Dr. Rosie L. Albritton, Ph.D., Retired
Dr. James A. Wilson, Jr., Associate Provost for Academic Affairs was Appointed as the Interim Library Director
Dr. George C. Wright Retired as President of Prairie View A&M University.
Dr. Ruth J. Simmons was appointed President of Prairie View A&M University.