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Department of Special Collections and University Archives

1940-1967. Academic Growth


  • Bonnie Brown, Assistant Librarian


  • Leta Sowder becomes the new Head Librarian (and is shown, as is the library, in the recruiting film made at this time). Library staff includes: Bonnie Brown, Daisybelle Dunn, Letha Green and Avis Wilton. 55,091 catalogued volumes, plus pamphlets and government documents. 275 periodicals.
  • 9th  Collegian: “new reading room has been opened across from the Browsing Room … for books or magazines concerning geology, zoology, agricultural, home economics, physics, chemistry, or business administration.” Mrs. Avis Wilton in charge of room 8 a.m. to noon,1 p.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday.


  • 21st.  Collegian, 1st mention of Leta Sowder as Librarian.



  • Leta Sowder, librarian. Library staff includes: Bonnie Brown, Daisybelle Dunn, Letha Green and Doris Cook, former McAlester High School Librarian. 58,982 catalogued volumes.
  • Collegian article on Experimental Theater’s first drawing room production in the round in the largely disused Browsing Room: Oscar Wilde’s “The Importance of Being Earnest”; “when tea is served to members of the cast, it will also be served to the audience.”


  • The library has over 60,000 cataloged volumes and over 40,000 documents and pamphlets.
  • McFarlin Library is open 70 hours per week compared to the 56 – 60 hours for most university libraries its size.
  • The library offers reference service to any citizen of Tulsa and has a separate collection of the latest publications on the war and the defense effort.
  • McFarlin Library is identified as one of the most complete geological libraries in the southwest.
  • Doris Cook supervises the Engineering reading room. Bradford A. Osborn is the technical librarian.


  • Leta Sowder, librarian. Library staff includes: Caroline Nittinger, Daisybelle Dunn, Letha Green and Doris Cook. 58,982 catalogued volumes, more than 375 periodicals. Frank H. Greer Memorial Collection of approximately 5,000 volumes include “much material on Lincoln and Napoleon, and many volumes of the early history and literature of Oklahoma…” Greer was the first newspaper publisher in Oklahoma Territory and later moved to Tulsa.


June 4

  • Collegian: Miss Leta Sowder, Head Librarian Sowder resigns to become Chief Librarian of Arkansas State Library Board, Little Rock. Eugenia Maddox, head of cataloging at Tulsa Public Library, will take charge July 1 (one year at TU, then BA from Wisconsin and MA in Library Science from Michigan). June 30
  • 43,368 volumes in the library; total 43-44 circulation: 37,576 items. Student pay advanced from $.30 an hour to $.40 an hour; Greer collection cataloging was completed; Basement rooms of McFarlin were used by the Geology department as classrooms and to store well samples. (see World story of November 28, 1950: collection had grown to more than 1.5 million samples from oil wells in a six-state area).


  • Arts & Sciences Announcements: 60,000 cataloged volumes… 385 periodicals.


  • Kathleen Burns, daughter of Dean Chase, becomes the new Reference and Cataloguing librarian, replacing Mrs. Charles Johnson.

June 30

  • 46,332 volumes in library, a growth of 3,095 of which 1,536 were added by gift.


  • Kathleen Burns arranges a display for Religion Week.


  • Arts & Sciences Bulletin: 79,000 cataloged volumes, 350 periodicals.


  • Returning WWII GIs begin intensively using the Browsing Room
  • The Geology Department moves into former YMCA space in basement of the library.


  • Library gets new fluorescent lights.
  • McFarlin Library is selected as the repository of a large collection of periodicals owned by the society of Exploration Geophysicists.
  • An arsonist sets fires in the restrooms of the Library, the Engineering building and the Student Union.
  • The Soper Collection is broken up, and much of the materials were sent to various departments, including the Theater Department for use as props.


  • World: the Piano Study Club conducts drive for addition to TU’s musical library; Jenkins Music Co. makes large gift of sheet music.


  • World: Library gets a glass floored “mezzanine”/extra floor added in Tower by decking the high fourth floor to serve as a fifth floor. “The library does not have use of the basement… but this space would be made available soon.” Shelves are removed on the 4th floor and new shelves moved to 5th floor. This work gives the library six floors across the large open upper area of the tower. Collegian article announces placement of map cabinet in basement.


  • Arts &Sciences Announcements: 82,250 cataloged volumes.


  • The law library material is separated from the main collection and sent to TU’s downtown Law Center.
  • Dr. Murray’s geology class is locked in the basement and is caught by the night watchman while trying to sneak out the windows.


  • Arts & Sciences Announcements: 91,000 cataloged volumes, 500 periodicals.


  • Collegian: new Library Handbook produced; edited by Margaret Patty.


  • Mr. and Mrs. John Rogers gave 500 books to the library.


  • Collegian: keysort cards introduced for circulation.


  • Microfilm Reader bought to read the Tulsa World and Tulsa Tribune.
  • Microcard Reader bought.


  • Arts & Sciences Announcements: 98,000 cataloged volumes.

May 30

  • $20,537 expended for acquisitions; 6,414 volumes added.


  • Tulsa World writes article about the soil sample library in the south basement of the TU Library.


  • College of Liberal Arts Announcements: 104,000 volumes, 600 periodicals.
  • Downtown Division Library opened with 12,000 volumes in law, 1,000 general books.


  • Library becomes a selective depository of the Carnegie Research.
  • McFarlin Library receives a gift of the complete files of both the Tulsa World and Tulsa Tribune on microfilm.


February 19

  • Tulsa businessman Rush Greenslade and the Tulsa Bibliophiles endows TU’s first rare book room in the north basement to house the Whitman Collection valued at $9,000.


  • College of Liberal Arts Announcements: ditto 1951 with added phrase “and the collection given by Mr. John Rogers.”


  • World: Geology Department moves out of the south basement and new book stacks are placed there; room for 35,000 volumes (4,300 shelf feet); five map cases with 12,000 maps will be moved to north room along with microfilm camera and thousands of duplicate periodicals and books. These will be stored in the north basement across from the famed Walt Whitman collection….” Walls blasted out of the basement to enable access to the elevator.


  • The library is featured in two TV programs produced by KOTV.
  • Office furniture valued at $100,000 is donated by both the Stanolind Oil (then Pan American Petroleum Corp.) and Sinclair Oil companies.
  • Eugenia Maddox served as president of OLA – while TU librarian



  • Previously closed book stacks are now open for all students not just Juniors and Seniors with stacks permits.



  • (see May 1958 World): North Campus given by Stanolind Oil Co. (then Pan American Petroleum Corp.); valued at $1.08 million.



  • Collegian: 91,000 cataloged volumes; $13,230 for new books; 9,373 volumes catalogued previous year.


  • TU builds North Campus including a branch technical library.
  • The Associated Press publishes an article about how “hep” TU is because they had a card drawer with the heading “roc-rol”.


  • World: Sears gives 56-roll microfilm set of catalogs 1892-1956 after the bound catalogs had been inadvertently discarded.


  • Jess Chouteau donates books to the library including two 15th century books.
  • Mrs. Pate Baker is the new librarian at the Evening Division and School of Law branch library.


  • A world globe is given to the library in honor of Dr. Carol Mason.


  • Torrential rain floods the basement of McFarlin Library and damaging much of the Robertson collection.


  • World: C.R. Richards gives collection of rare arithmetic books to Mathematics department;


  • Total expenditures $148,923; 9,861 volumes added; 1,497 periodicals received; 287 items were borrowed from other libraries, 209 loaned to other libraries.


  • World: W.F. Semple gives collection (mostly law?) including books from hanging Judge I.C. Parker.


  • Information Services established with 350,000 card file (indexing 60,000 taken over from Standard Oil of Indiana company.


  • The branch library at North Campus is named the Sidney Born Technical Library. University President Dr. Ben Graf Henneke, challenged by “Pup”, asked Born for help in providing books “like those he had used at Columbia”. Born gave $15,000. Art professor Bradley E. Place designed Born Library bookplate. 7300 feet of shelving is installed.


  • Collegian: Mr. & Mrs. William L. Kistler donate the Freshman collection; a beautiful collection of books by Manley Johnson, Paul Alworth and others.


January 1

  • First issue of Petroleum Abstracts published.


  • July newsletter:  "…work has started on the complex job of air-conditioning TU library…. a large underground tunnel carrying chilled water from the Student Activities building to the library is a vital part of the project.” Four large air handling units have been put in place on the third floor of the library. The library installs air conditioning. McFarlin is connected to the Student Activities building to benefit from its excess air conditioning capacity through the tunnel. The tunnel is paid for by the Federal Government as part of its fall-out shelter program. During this project, the dynamite used to open the exterior wall cracked the tower, which “rang like a bell” (BGH).
  • McFarlin undergoes some renovations as a tile floor, acoustical tile ceiling, and colorful walls are added. New furniture is added to Browsing Room, South Basement, Seminar Rooms in the North Basement, the Order Librarians office, and cubicles for students wanting to use typewriters. The Periodicals Department is moved from the basement to second floor.
  • At this point, there are three main floors and 5 tower stacks. There is a control desk where all purses, packages and bags are checked. 196,500 books. Smoking is prohibited in McFarlin Library.


  • 1948 Student Library Handbook is updated to a “Know your libraries” booklet.
  • The north campus branch library gets a Xerox copier.


  • Bulletin: 197,000 cataloged books … 1900 periodical subscriptions. Expanded description of Evening Division and Sidney Born libraries is included.


  • Access by high school students and non-University readers is restricted. The four reading rooms were air-conditioned and a storm door placed at the main entrance. “Lack of space” alarming. 207,790 volumes in the collection. “Elevator is over 32 years old, and is frequently out of order”. 1300 registered borrowers with courtesy cards: “Many libraries charge a fee for library users who are not members of university community.”



  • Collegian: plans announced to convert Harwell gym to undergraduate library, build a new $1 million gymnasium.

May 31

  • John Bennett Shaw Modern Authors (Hemingway, Faulkner, Steinbeck, Wolfe and Mansfield) are purchased. More than 700 books and journals.


  • Collegian: The library installs its first coin-operated photocopy machine in the north room on second floor; 25 cents per page. Installed by Bell Photo Copy Company.
  • “Several of the large oil companies and the two aircraft plants have regular courier service to McFarlin Library for the purpose of borrowing material.”



  • “Know your libraries” booklet: 231,000 books; smoking still prohibited.


  • Library had 387 seats; book budget of $37,080; collection at 230,160 items; budget $205,000; 297,564 entrances.
  • Student Senate gives $700 for library books.


  • James Veasey, a TU trustee from 1927 to 1929, dies, leaving his collection of American History books, focusing on Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War era.


  • World: loaned 824 volumes to other libraries, borrowed 431.


  • Plans to convert Harwell Gymnasium into a freshman library begin.


  • World: The building of the five-floor Chapman addition is announced. This addition is designed by H. G. Barnard, A.I.A.. Tulsa Rig, Reel and Manufacturing Co. is the general contractor. (note that in practice, it is never referred to as the Chapman addition.)


  • Rush Greenslade bequest of his English Literature collection is received just before end of fiscal year. 299,805 items in collection. (Dickens in parts very likely came from Reed Alsopp, Tulsa Book Shop, whose father had been editor of a good newspaper in Ft. Smith prior to 1860 and who had subscribed to parts on publication. Greenslade likely bought them from Alsopp to keep the shop open during the 1930s. Book Shop was later sold to John Bennett Shaw. In the late 1930s Dr. Henneke had arranged for one of his classes to visit New York, and Alsopp gave Henneke money so they could have wine with a meal.)
  • Tulsa Bibliophiles transfer title to Walt Whitman collection.