Skip to Main Content

Ellis Old and New

There are five pictures on ths page, scroll down to see them all.

Reference Room


Until the Nutter Information Commons was built in 2004, the first floor of the South Addition served as the Reference Room. The subject librarians, who had been scattered throughout the library in various subject libraries, were brought together and their offices located on the east and west ends of the room. The general reference collection, as well as all the specialized reference books from the area libraries, were located on this floor.

This is a view of the Reference Room looking east from the Reference Desk. There were about 50,000 books in the Reference Room. In the middle of the room, running east from Reference Desk were index tables. The one in the foreground holds the Readers to Guide to Periodical Literature. On either side of the index tables were subject alcoves, five on each side. The alcoves held what the subject librarian considered their most essential sources. Each alcove held a study table. Although they are not visible in this picture, there were more shelves of reference books to the south (right), where the windows are.

The Reference Room then and now.

Old Reference looking west

This view looks at toward the southwest. In the background you can see computers with signs on them. At the time the picture was taken, these computers were devoted to searching specific subject databases. The data from the database was on CD-ROMs connected to the computer.  The signs on the computers give the name of the database.

The Reference Room then and now.


This is the Bibliographies section at the east end of the Reference Room. Before online catalogs, the only way researchers or librarians had of determining the holdings of major libraries was to look at their bibliographies, which were in book form. Works like the National Union Catalog of Pre-1956 Imprints, a 750+ volume set of print books held by major U.S. and Canadian libraries, were kept here.

Bibliographies then and now.

Looking at Alcove 10

This is a view from the Reference Desk looking toward the southeast. The index tables are on the left and Alcove 10 is on the right in the background.  Finding books in the Reference Room was always a challenge.  

Reference Room looking south

This is a view looking south to where the Student Center is now located. Shelves of reference books lined the south windows interrupted every thirty feet with study tables. 

The Reference Room then and now.