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TL v58n4: History of the Columbia State Community College Library
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Tennessee Libraries 

Volume 58 Number 4
 

 2008

 

 History of the Columbia State Community College Library

by

Kathy Breeden, Director

 

On June 22, 1965, the State Board of Education approved Columbia as the site of the first community college in the state.  The college was temporarily housed in facilities throughout the city of Columbia until the present campus was completed in September 1967.  George F. Watson (see Figures 1 and 2) was hired as the first library director in 1966, and the library was initially housed on the second floor of a temporary classroom building in Columbia.

Figure 1. Original faculty and staff of Columbia State Community College including George Watson, library director.

Figure 2. George Watson, CSCC's first library director.

On March 15, 1967, Lady Bird Johnson, accompanied by President Lyndon B. Johnson, officially dedicated the new Columbia campus (see Figure 3).   The original campus, consisting of an administration building, library, classroom building, student center, gymnasium, and power building, was completed for the opening of classes in September 1967. In October 1967, the library was dedicated to John Wesley Finney who had worked many years to bring the college into being.  He died in 1965 only six months before his dream of a community college for Maury County was officially realized.  Finney was editor and general manager of the Columbia Daily Herald from 1926 until his death on January 24, 1965.  He also served on the State Board of Education and for many years.

Figure 3. President and Mrs. Johnson dedicate new Columbia State campus

The library quickly outgrew the original space, and construction began in 1971 on a new library (see Figures 4 and 5).   The library was completed in time for the opening of spring quarter 1972 on March 21.  The library staff began moving into the new library in early March of that year. On Sunday June 25, 1972, a dedication was held for the new library and for the new Clement and Warf buildings.  The new library was rededicated to the memory of John Wesley Finney, and the original library was converted into a nursing education building. The library has remained in this building since 1972 but was refurbished in 2001 with new paint and carpet. The library has two floors and approximately 23,000 square feet of space.  The book collection has grown to over 70,000 volumes.

Figure 4. Construction of the Finney Library, 1971

Figure 5. The completed Finney Library

In the early 1980’s the library was renamed the Learning Resources Center, a name it kept until 2001 when it again became the Library. As the college has grown, branch libraries have been added at the college’s extended campuses in Franklin (1988), Lawrenceburg (1988), Lewisburg (1996), and Clifton (1997). Since 1978, the library has been home to 13 plaster statuary casts from the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.  The collection is comprised of four statues, six busts, and three bas reliefs.

Directors of the Library or Learning Resources Center are or have been:
George F. Watson 1966-1980
William Muehlbauer  1980-1986
Marvin Light 1986-1991
Sue Loper  1991-1999 
Kathy Breeden 2000-

First Columbia State library director George Watson died in Franklin, Tennessee, in 2003 at the age of 85.  He was a native of Nevada who served for over 20 years on submarines in the U.S. Navy.  Following his Navy career, he obtained a bachelor’s degree in business education and a master’s degree in library science from George Peabody College for Teachers.  He served as a librarian at the Tennessee State Library and Archives from 1962-65,  as first director of the library at North East Junior College, Rainsville, Ala., from 1965-66; and as first director of the library in the new Tennessee State Community College system at Columbia State Community College, from 1966-80 when he retired.


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