Scrapbook memories, c. 1935
When the University of Cincinnati's Blegen Library opened in 1930, checking out library books was vastly different from what patrons do today. First of all, neither faculty nor students ever saw the stacks, which were built into the interior of the building. "Made of cast iron, each stack supports the floor above it, creating an airflow that helped control the climate when there was no air conditioning," explains Kevin Grace, head of UC Archives and Rare Books Department, which is still housed in Blegen.
To request a book in those days, patrons would use the card catalog and take a request slip to the circulation desk. Pages in the stacks would then retrieve the book and send it to the desk via dumbwaiters, as shown in this photograph, c. 1935.
At the time Blegen opened, UC Libraries held 197,880 volumes. Today, the main library in Langsam and nine auxiliaries have more than 3 million volumes.
See related story about UC's archives and rare books.