The present-day Tennessee State University was established by a 1909 Act of the Tennessee State legislature. Tennessee Agricultural and Industrial State Normal School began operations on June 19, 1912. At that time, the Library was housed in a small room in the old Administration Building and consisted of a meager collection of resources. As the institution grew, so did the Library.
By 1922, the institution was offering bachelor’s degrees, and in 1925, Mrs. Martha M. Brown, a member of the first faculty, took charge of the two-room library. In 1926, she received her degree in library services and secured a grant from the Rosenwald Fund to assist in constructing a separate library building. The new building, erected at a cost of $66,000, boasted shelf space for 25,000 volumes and seating for 150 library users. By 1930 the Library holdings had expanded, and the staff had grown to include two full-time and six part-time employees.
In 1933, the Library extended its services by establishing a branch library on the second floor for the high school and elementary school students of the practice school. Three years later, Mrs. Zelma L. Redmond organized the Library Science Club to foster an appreciation among students for the role that the library played in their cultural, educational and professional development.
Another milestone was reached in 1940 when the State Board of Education approved courses in Library Service training designed for librarians and part-time librarians in the high schools of Tennessee, as well as for junior and senior college students who desired a minor in Library Service. In 1945, Ms. Lois H. Daniel became the second head librarian, and in 1947 the State Legislature appropriated $667,239 for expansion and renovation of the existing library building. The new facility accommodated 120,000 volumes and provided seating for 850 users, including 65 individual study carrels. Ten study rooms for graduate professors adjoined the graduate study room located on the third floor. The T-shaped Georgian-style building was dedicated on November 23 and named the Martha M. Brown Memorial Library. The staff at the time numbered four librarians and five professional assistants.
In 1941 the institution began offering graduate degrees and in 1946 was accredited by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1951 the institution was granted university status, and in 1958 became a land-grant university. As Tennessee State University grew in enrollment and in degree offerings, the demands on the Library grew as well. The existing library facility was unable to accommodate the needs of the expanding University, so plans were developed for a new library building.
In 1976, the Library moved into its new $2.4 million building, which was named the Martha M. Brown and Lois H. Daniel Memorial Library. The building, with 82,000 square feet of space, included special study and research facilities for faculty and graduate students and a Special Collections Room to house University historical archives, theses, dissertations and other special materials. Dr. Evelyn P. Fancher was appointed as the third Library Director. The following year, the Library of Congress classification system was adopted, and in 1978, the Tattle-Tape Security System (3M) was installed. During the following year, the Southeastern Library Network (SOLINET) membership was initiated and the first computer terminals were installed in the Library. The landmark merger between Tennessee State University and the University of Tennessee at Nashville became effective July 1, 1979, combining two libraries and staff.
Once computers found a home in the Library, the use of technology for library management and for information storage and retrieval would become a hallmark of TSU’s Brown-Daniel Library. In 1988 and 1989 INFOTRAC (on CD-ROM), DISCLOSURE (on CD-ROM for business), CD-ROM (compact disc information storage/retrieval,) and microcomputer stations were introduced. The SIRSI library automated system was installed.
Dr. Yildiz B. Binkley was appointed as the Library’s fourth director in 1991. That same year, the CD-ROM multi-platter system was installed, culminating in the Local Area Network. In 1992, the Library was awarded a three-year grant from the Fund for the Improvement of Post Secondary Education (FIPSE) of the U.S. Department of Education to establish the Computer Resource Equity of Access in Tennessee Education (CREATE) Network, a consortium of Tennessee HBCU libraries. The following year, the Library was awarded a two-year grant from the National Security Agency to establish a computer skills laboratory to serve inner-city children through a series of Saturday training workshops.
Technology continued to bring new innovations in the library services. In 1994 and 1995, the OCLC AMIGOS Collection Analyses System was purchased for collection development in addition to the Carl/Uncover, the Concise Engineering Index, and the Health Reference Center on CD-Rom. The Library's online catalog became available on the Internet. The TSU Library faculty and staff participated in Tennessee Board of Regents and State Department of Education projects training university and school librarians in the use of the Internet. In addition, the Library Art Corner was established, showcasing the work of local artists and artisans and reinforcing for students the role of the Library in their intellectual and cultural development. In this same period, the Government Publications Office Online Access became available to Library users, and the Library created its first web page. Technological innovations continued in 1996 and 1997. INFOTRAC databases were offered on line for wider use. Online access to journal information became available through the Library Homepage.
The first library computer lab was established in the Reference Department, and the Library installed a security system equipped with motion sensors, video cameras and alarms. In addition, the library began using the Data Resource Associates (DRA) online system, which included interfaces for circulation, acquisitions, cataloging, and other library service applications. The Library began digitizing archival and non-copyrighted materials. The Library became a founding member of the Nashville Area Library Alliance (NALA), a consortium of college and university libraries, the Public Library of Nashville and Davidson County, and public school libraries. Tennessee State University also became an active participant in the consortium's Project ATHENA, which provides linkages among the institutions' online catalogs and expedited document delivery via express courier service. The Library continued its collaboration with other libraries in Tennessee to increase resource sharing, and in 1998 the Library was among the founding members of Tennessee Academic Library Collaborative.
In 2002, the Library began to provide a wireless environment for patrons. The 2003 academic year ushered in a variety of innovations, including installation of a new integrated library system and implementation of online access to periodical holdings via Serial Solutions. The Library initiated a Book Club for faculty, students and staff and established periodical and book browsing areas. The Library became a founding member of the HBCU Library Alliance, and Dr. Yildiz B. Binkley was elected as the first secretary to its Board.
In 2005 the Library participated in the HBCU Library Alliance Leadership Conference and the Digital Project funded by the Mellon Foundation and assisted by Cornell University. In 2007, the Library participated in the HBCU Library Alliance Photograph Preservation project funded by the Melon Foundation in cooperation with University of Delaware.
In 2008, the Embedded Librarian Program was established to collaborate with faculty in teaching information literacy skills within online, on ground and/or hybrid courses. The first Embedded Librarian, Mrs. Barbara Van Hooser, assisted students in Dr. Samantha Morgan-Curtis’ ENGL 1020 freshman composition class.
Throughout its 100-year history, Tennessee State University has grown incrementally from a normal school to a major land-grant, urban and comprehensive university with a significant research mission. The Martha M. Brown and Lois H. Daniel Memorial Library has kept pace with that growth, oftentimes outpacing the University itself. Currently focused on the establishment of a digital learning commons, mobile access, self-checking capabilities, the expansion of online access, service to the profession, and collaboration with faculty in classroom, on-line and hybrid courses, the Library continues to play an important role in Tennessee State University’s mission, embodied in its motto: Think, Work, Serve.
The Martha M. Brown-Lois H. Daniel Library Centennial Page is at http://ww2.tnstate.edu/library/centennial/.