The first "official" college library was likely that of the Adelphian Literary Society, which in 1880 had acquired the Corvallis Library Association's Library. Ten years later, the Adelphians transferred their 605-volume library to the college. By 1899, when the first full-time, nonstudent librarian, Arthur Stimpson, was appointed, the collection had grown to 3000 volumes and 500 pamphlets and bulletins. The first professional librarian, Ida A. Kidder, was appointed in 1908.
Initially housed in the Administration Building (now Benton Hall), a structure for the library was constructed in 1918 with funds appropriated by the Oregon Legislative Assembly passed a year earlier. Named Kidder Hall in honor of Ida Kidder, the library was re-named in 1954 for William Jasper Kerr, president of OSU from 1907-1932 and first chancellor of the State System of Higher Education.
Despite the construction of a west wing to the library building in 1941, space needs continued to become increasingly acute with the expansion of collections and staff. In the late 1950s, planning began for a new structure that was completed in 1963 and expanded in 1971 with the addition of two floors. A branch of the Library at the OSU Hatfield Marine Science Center was completed in 1976 and eventually named for Marilyn Potts Guin, the first librarian there.
Increasing demand for space drove plans for further expansion and renovation of the library building that began in 1988 but really gained momentum with the approval of funds from the Legislative Assembly in 1993. Owing to the success of a fundraising campaign to raise private money to match state funds, expansion efforts began in 1996 and were completed in 1999. The Kerr Library was renamed the Valley Library in 1995 in honor of the Wayne and Gladys Valley Family, whose foundation donated $10 million to library expansion efforts.
Librarians subsequent to Kidder were Lucy M. Lewis (1920-1945), William H. Carlson (1945-1965), Rodney K. Waldron (1965-1984), Melvin R. George (1984-1996), Karyle Butcher (1997-2010), and Faye Chadwell (2010-).
The Central Library Office for the Oregon State System of Higher Education (OSSHE) was administered by Lucy Lewis and William Carlson at OSU from 1932 from 1965. Upon Carlson's retirement in 1965, the directorship of the office was transferred to the University of Oregon under the guidance of Dr. Carl Hintz.
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