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Pratt Digital Exhibits

A New Era for the Library

Published on

In the November 1940 report of the Pratt Institute Free Library, William Shirley, Librarian, writes: this is the first and last report in which I can write “the Library has tried to serve the Institute and the people of Brooklyn”. As Pratt transitioned into an accredited college offering 4-year degrees, the Trustees decided that the Library could no longer meet the demands of the public and the growing student body. The public announcement was made on Founder’s Day October 2nd, 1930 in an address to the “Friends of the Pratt Institute Free Library”. However, the change from a public to a private library did not happen overnight and it was not until June 1st, 1940 that the library ceased circulating books to the public. During this time a a petition to keep the Library open to the public was circulated to the Board of Trustees. Thus, the Trustees authorized a membership of $5.00 for borrowers in good standing. While annual reports note there were “fervent and numerous” protestations against the dropping of the “Free” from the Library’s name, the new membership system only attracted 104 people during its first year.

From booklifts in the early 1900s to the implementation of the online catalog system in the 1980s, technology has always been an important part of library operations. These photographs document some of the machines available to students during the 1960s.

Proceed to Renovations to the Library Building