As Oxford College Library says goodbye to Library Dean Dr. Kitty McNeill, who is retiring this May, we wanted to take a moment to reflect on the history of the Oxford College Library.
While the library has existed in some form since the founding of Emory College in 1836, the college did not have a dedicated library building until the construction of Candler Hall in 1897. Candler Hall operated as the Oxford College campus library until 1970, when the new library was constructed.
To transfer the books from Candler Hall, a line of students, faculty, staff, and Oxford residents formed between Candler Hall and the new library.
The “book walk” began at 8:30 A.M., and in just under six hours, 23,102 volumes, 331 unbound pieces, and 163 maps were moved from Candler Hall to the shelves of the new library.
The library’s collections started from donations of books from alumni and faculty. The collection still contains books and materials from the Phi Gamma and Few Societies libraries, as well as the Seney Library. The library’s current collection has grown to include over 60,000 physical items as well as the Emory Libraries system’s vast electronic holdings.
A variety of items are held in the Library’s Archives and Special Collections. The archives include items from the college’s history as well as unique items like our Collection of Asian Artifacts. This collection contains a variety of Japanese, Korean, and Chinese artifacts, most of them purchased in Kobe, Japan.
The 1970’s library building served the college until 2012, when the expansion and renovations started on the current facility. Completed in 2013, the construction project was headed by Kitty McNeill, who was instrumental in designing a space for our community to enjoy. The library has grown to be a center for learning and community on the Oxford College campus.
Dean Kitty McNeill joined Oxford College in 1985 as assistant college librarian when she graduated from Emory University with her Master of Librarianship degree. She was part of one of the last classes to graduate from Emory’s library science program before it was closed by the University. Kitty became the college librarian in 1989 and over the years took on more and more responsibilities, eventually becoming the dean of the library in 2014.
As Kitty helped and supported students, faculty and staff here for almost 38 years, I thought it was appropriate to ask her a few questions before she retires.
- Having helped support students at Oxford and Emory for almost 38 years, do you have any advice for our current and future students?
I encourage our students to take advantage of the extensive physical and electronic resources available from the Emory Libraries, including Oxford College. And most importantly, find more, learn more, and ask a librarian for help with your research and studies!
- What has been the best thing about working at Oxford College over the years?
The best thing about my time at Oxford was the constantly evolving library environment. I always love a challenge and throughout the years there were numerous opportunities to innovate and implement new technology, systems, and services for our students, faculty, and staff. It has been an honor and a privilege to work with such a collaborative team of staff and librarians to make the library what it is today, a hub of living and learning for the College.