University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma

Nash Library History

The University of Science and Arts of Oklahoma’s Nash Library, constructed at a cost of approximately $500,000, opened its doors in May 1950 and was dedicated on April 22, 1951. The library held 39,000 volumes. At that time, the college was known as Oklahoma College for Women (OCW). Prior to construction of Nash Library, the library for the college was housed on the third floor of the Administration Building, which is now known as Troutt Hall. For several years, the Library was simply known as the “College Library.” In April 1957, President Dan Procter recommended naming the Library in honor of Dr. Mell Achilles Nash, the fifth president of OCW. The recommendation was accepted by the Board of Regents and the official name became “Nash Library.”

The west-facing building is a three-story rectangular structure of buff brick. The front of the Library features a terrace with four large columns. A large picture window sits above the entry doors and extends to the third floor where it is topped with an engraving of Joseph Addison’s proclamation that “Books are the legacies that a great genius leaves to mankind.” The exterior has remained essentially unchanged in its 50+ years. A notable exception is the Library’s west entrance; originally, the doors opened onto an outdoor stage with steps leading to ground level. The outdoor stage was used for various campuswide events, including commencements. The stage was eliminated, in accordance with Americans with Disabilities Act requirements, after a two-year renovation in 1993-1994, which added ramps leading to the library entrance.

In 2006, a grant from the McCasland Foundation provided for new tables and chairs, replacing the original 1950 light birch and claret leather tables and chairs. In 2008, a bronze sculpture, "Flight," by artist Archie Held, was installed in front of the library. This work was inspired by Oklahoma's state bird, the scissor-tailed flycatcher, and represents the breadth of opportunities one gains through a liberal arts education. Over the past several years, recent renovations have included the additions of the 24/7 Computer Lab, the Commuter Lounge, and the Digital Scholarship Lab.

Further historical material about the library is available in the Archives. The May 10, 1950 issue of the O.C.W. Trend (the college's student newspaper), which is available to read online, includes a front-page story on the opening of the new library. Three print sources are available in the archives; all are available for viewing upon request. The Library Bureau, which was a manufacturer and vendor of library supplies, featured the new library on the cover of its annual publication, The Pioneer (vol. 14, no. 3), and included several photographs of the library inside that issue. Jimmie Lee Welch wrote a detailed account of the OCW library through 1966. This account includes descriptions of OCW librarians, policies, equipment, and holdings for various years. Photographs and photocopies of selected personnel and events are included. Mitzi Kay Cook wrote an in-depth account of the 1993-1994 renovation, complete with photographs. This publication is call number LD 4292 .U4792N 1996.

In Summer 2015, a new series of renovations began. The large room on the south side of the upper floor, previously known as the old archives, became a new Reading Room outfitted with study tables and seating. It houses current journals and the recreational reading collection. The former Reference Room on the north side of the main floor was divided in two by a newly-constructed wall; the east half will become the Music Pocket Library, and the west half will become the USAO museum.

In 2015, USAO received a Title 3 Grant from the U.S. Department of Education to create a Student Success Center, which will occupy the large room on the north side of the upper floor, previously known as the Education Room. Renovations to this room will continue through Spring 2016.