The new six-story library at UVa-Wise will open soon, and the college is marking the occasion by honoring a tradition that started five years after the liberal arts school opened its doors.
The college’s first library was housed in Crockett Hall, the original building. As the young college grew, the need for a bigger library grew as well. In 1959, new library space was created in the then new classroom building known later as Zehmer Hall. The small college used its resources wisely and students, faculty and staff carried the books from Crockett Hall up the steep hill to the new library area.
It took the book brigade six trips to carry about 9,000 books to the new shelves in Zehmer. The brigade began at 9:30 a.m. and ended at 11:30 a.m. Bill Hooper, a physics instructor, carried the first load of books. Student Dennis Hall carried the last set of books. The books were shelved in order.
Although professional book movers will move the vast library’s holdings to the new facility, in a nod to 1959, a book brigade will be organized to “carry” some books from the John Wyllie Library to the new library. A ribbon cutting ceremony is set for Aug. 23 at 1:30 p.m. Organizers are asking any students, faculty or staff who participated in the 1959 book brigade to email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 276-376-1011. Organizers would like the group from 1959 to participate in the ceremonial book brigade at the new library’s ribbon cutting event.