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About Us: Library History

Library History Timeline

1927
The first 86 students (men and women) attended Buncombe County Junior College, which was part of the Buncombe County public school system. After graduating high school, residents were welcome to continue their education free of charge. 

1930
Buncombe County Junior College merged with the College of the City of Asheville to become Biltmore Junior College.

1934-1939
The college was reorganized, renamed Biltmore College, then placed under the control of the Asheville public school system and named Asheville Biltmore College. During this time, it moved to new facilities around town several times. 

Students used their own cars to move library books from place to place. The library had 3,000 volumes, and students were encouraged to use Pack Library for supplementary materials.

1938
Writer Wilma Dykeman graduated from Asheville Biltmore College. (See her contributions to Bluets, the school's literary magazine, in Special Collections.)

1940s
After the Great Depression, the university began to charge a small tuition fee but would also accept barter.

1946
At the end of World War II, the college was inundated by returning veterans whose tuition and fees were paid by the G.I. Bill. The college received federal funds to expand.

1947
The American Association of University Women more than doubled the number of usable reference books through cash and book donations.

1949
The college purchased and moved into Seely's Castle (Overlook) on Sunset Mountain and became known as "The College in the Sky." The castle was originally built as a private residence by Fred Seely, who also built the Grove Park Inn. The home's traditional "gentleman's library" was a popular place to study.

1955
The college began receiving state funds, which helped cover the castle's expensive operating and maintence costs.

1958
Residents of Buncombe County voted three to one in favor of a bond issue to expand and improve Asheville-Biltmore College. The Sunset Mountain terrain didn't allow for growth and a new location was sought.

1961
The new campus on W. T. Weaver Boulevard opened. Students, faculty and board members helped to move the library's holdings. The library, classrooms and offices were all temporarily housed in one of the first buildings to be completed, Phillips Hall.

1962
Ainsley Whitman became University Librarian.

1962
The library had 13,652 books.

1964
The Botanical Gardens were established on 10 acres of campus property.

1965
The new campus library building opened and was named for Darley Hiden Ramsey, a local newspaper editor, public speaker, city and state official, member of educational boards and writer. The library was the first building on campus to be named. A bibliography course was included as general education requirement, and the library became a partial depository for United States Government documents.

1966
Ramsey Library was featured in Interiors magazine and Library Journal.

1967
The library had 50,000 volumes.

1969
Asheville-Biltmore College became the University of North Carolina at Asheville.

1975
The OCLC database was available for staff use only. 

1976
The library had 79,640 books, 13,520 bound journals, 4,811 reels of microfilm and 18,550 documents. There were 3 professional librarians and 7.5 paraprofessional staff.

1977
Mel Blowers became University Librarian.

1977
Dr. Bruce Greenwalt started the Southern Highlands Research Center, located in the library. The Center would become Special Collections.

1981
The library converted its card catalog shelf list to machine readable form through "electronic keyboarding."

1984
Ramsey Library was remodelled. In addition to the card catalog, CRT computer terminals were available to search the LAMBDA online catalog. 

1985
Ramsey Library was the first UNC library to completely replace the card catalog with a computerized system. In advance of the introduction, fines for overdue books were waived during a three day amnesty.

1988
Additions and renovations to Ramsey Library commenced.

1990
Additions and renovations to Ramsey Library were completed, more than doubling the size of the library and adding the Blowers Gallery and Café Ramsey.

1995
Renovation of the original structure was completed, enclosing formerly open areas to increase heating and cooling efficiency.

1997
8 Views of Mt. Pisgah, an eight-panel mural by Robert Johnson, was installed above the reference desk. Each panel of the piece represented a different forecast for the future of region: from environmental wasteland to networked utopia.

2001
The Glass House was added to the front of the building.

2013
Renovations were commenced to accommodate OneStop offices in the lower level and expand the library café.

 

Library Collections Timeline

1934 1962 1967 1976 2013
BOOKS 3000 13652 50000 79640 358173
JOURNALS 13520 471
EBOOKS 323945
EJOURNALS 89709
MICROFORMS 4811 5847
DVDs 3696
CDs 2336
STREAMING MUSIC 1496313
STREAMING VIDEO 116957
DOWNLOADABLE IMAGES 1516544

Timeline Photos

Seely's Castle library

Seely's Castle library

microfilm

library card catalog

phillips library

library card catalog

ramsey library

midcentury library

midcentury library