Oklahoma State University

Library Stories


For Immediate Release

Edmon Low Library's 50th Anniversary Logo

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As part of the 50th anniversary year theme That was Then, This is Now, the Library asked former employees and students to submit their favorite memories of the Library. The Library has served generations of OSU students. We'd like to hear from them all.

The Library has collected several stories so far, but we plan to continue this project beyond the anniversary year. If you have a special memory of the Library you would like to share, please send it to Library Communications, 224 Library, Stillwater, OK 74078 or email lib-pub@okstate.edu.

The 1930s

I remember Icko Iben, the Library Director at the time. Iben was known for a large dueling scar across one cheek and his rigid and forceful methods. All the students were scared of him. He'd come into to the stacks and threaten to fire us all if we got out of line.
-Edward Peeler, Student Assistant 1935-38


The 1940s

I enrolled in Oklahoma A&M in 1946. A massive construction was undertaken where they built the Student Union, Stout Hall, and several other large buildings, including the Low Library. Mr. Edmon Low was then the librarian, still in the old building. In August 1950, I stood at the Northwest corner of the old Engineering building, the one with the radio antennae, and talked with a friend of my who was surveying foundation lines in the big hole that was to become the Low Library. I told my friend that I had just been called into the army and would be leaving soon. He wished me well, and I left.

Two years later, I returned, and passed that same corner of the Engineering building. The Low Library had just been completed. There was a surveyor working there and it was my friend who had wished me well two years previously. This time he was surveying the sidewalks. I spoke to him and remarked that he had not made much progress since I last saw him. He was within 50 feet of where we had greeted each other two years previously. This time I was out of the Army, and was back in Stillwater to finish the one semester I needed to graduate. I did finish in 1953, and have always been proud of my Aggie-Cowboy heritage
-Walter Kline, BS ME 1953


The 1950's

It was a beautiful summer day in 1959 when Ernest "E.L." Stair Jr. presented an engagement ring to his sweetheart, Eileen (Austin), on the front lawn of the Edmon Low Library. "I worked at my parents' farm near Lawton that summer and had to sell a calf and haul a lot of scrap iron to raise the money for her ring," says E.L., '60 DVM.

Eileen worked as a cataloger at OSU's library with E.L.'s sister, Pat, who had introduced them earlier that spring. "I still remember the first time I saw E.L.," Eileen says. "He was walking up the stairs in the library with his sister, Pat, who had arranged a Coke date for us."

Six months later the couple married on Sept. 5, 1959, and spent another year in Stillwater while E.L. finished his degree and Eileen continued working at the library.

"The library was still new in 1959," says Eileen, who had been hired by Alice Pattee a couple of years earlier upon her graduation from the University of Oklahoma with a master's degree in library science. "I attended OSU for one summer and one fall semester after high school before my family moved away to Enid," Eileen says. "That's why I ended up getting my bachelor's and master's degrees somewhere besides OSU. But my first professional job was at the OSU library when Edmon Low was the head librarian."

As a cataloger, Eileen spent hours reading and studying books to determine where they needed to be placed and also converted the library cards to read Oklahoma State University instead of Oklahoma A&M College after the college changed to a university.

"The library was a very elegant place," E.L. remembers, "and always immaculate and shining."
Excerpt from Love in the Library by Janet Varnum

Let me explain the Library Tower to you. The unique thing about the tower is that despite it's appearance of perfect proportion, it is distorted intentionally. Distorted intentionally because when viewed from the ground it would not appear to have perfect symetry unless the proportions were distorted. It's a matter of perspective. Objects seem smaller to the eye with distance, and to compensate for that, exagerated proportions were employed. You can see how successful the intent was when you look at the tower. Up close you would be disapointed.

I was not in any way involved with the design of the library. I wasn't there most of the time of construction. My explaination of the tower was told me by Dwight Stevens, the designer of record. Dwight Stevens was hired by the University Architect Phil Wilbur to design the Library. He and the then Librarian Edmon Low traveled to several university libraries to see how they operated. As a consequence the open stack scheme they employed was one of the first in the nation on a campus.
-Dick Young, personal friend of Dwight Stevens, Designer of Record

OSU Library Important to Krehbiel Family
OSU Magazine Spring 2003 Story by Janet Varnum

When the Library was being constructed, I was asked to pose for the Aggievator. I was looking up one of the columns, and the picture caption was "whata shaft".
Barry Kinsey, OSU Student

Working for the construction company as a Stillwater High boy, I helped dig footings for the present building. My foreman was named "Skillet." I later became night watchman and then was hired in the maintenance department under Mr. Bill Taylor, a respected friend to this day. As a history major, I worked classroom hours around my work schedule in the Library Building. My wife, Marian, a ZTA, often walked around Theta Pond to "Study" with me! We have several Sunday afternoon pictures made in front of the fountain, some with "Sig", the Great Dane favorite of the campus.

I have changed almost every light in the building, plus learning all sorts of electrical repair tips from Bill Taylor, changing out ballasts, etc.

The student wage in 1953 was $.75 an hour. I had been making much more than that with the construction company and Dr. Low wanted to reduce my wage. Mr. Taylor said, "No, he's far more valuable to me than that!" Dr. Low said, "Well, let me think about this." He later agreed at $1.25 per hour. This helped me finish my degree, get married, which we did at the First Baptist Church of Stillwater, and on to graduate work in Texas, where we've lived for the past 50 years and will celebrate our 50th Anniversary on December 12, 2003.

I was a history major and my wife was a music major. I hold a BD from Southwestern Theological Seminary in Ft. Worth, Tx, a Master of Arts in Education/History/Religion from Baylor University, and a doctorate from Southwestern Theological Seminary with early doctoral studies done at UT-Austin. Marian has an MM from UT-Austin and taught public school music for 28 years in Texas Public Schools.

I held pastorates in Hill County, Waco, Corsicana, and Austin, TX. Our last years were spent working for the Baptist General Convention of Texas in the College Student Division as Coordinator of Student Work in the Dallas County Community Colleges, TWU Dallas Campus, Southwest Med School, and others. We retired in 1991 and I now teach computer science at Richland College and work with a neighbor who owns a roof, siding and windows company as time allows.

For the past 10 years I've studied Bavarian wood carving and have quite a collection which I've entered in carving shows and do for relaxation and enjoyment. I also am an NCAA Track official and am a starter for many of the college and highschool meets. I've started Big 12, Southland Conference, and a number of International meets such as US/Russia and Pan American Games.

We have three children and seven grandchildren, all living in Texas. Life has been good, we feel extremely blessed, and will always hold Stillwater and Oklahoma State University in our hearts.
-"Reg" King - 1949-1954

Checking books being carried from the library, especially looking through Brief Cases, results in strange findings and unusual justification statements. Likewise, wondering through the nooks and crannies trying to locate misconduct and wrong doing, well, it can get interesting. But it was in the little coffee room, second floor as I recall, that I overheard 3 librarians discussing the relatively new book check out system in use that was fool proof. I was alone, just listening, but soon I decided they were far too excited about this "fool proof" deal that wasn't fool proof. So, I spoke up and told them how I could walk out the front door, with the guard's approval, with any book available for being checked out, and no one would know where it went. In effect, I could steal it if I could check it out. It took a while, but they finally understood it. Yes, they went into a tissy. I never knew if the system was changed from that flawed system, but the job paid $1./hr., 25 cents more than most campus jobs, because wearing a tie was required. I appreciated the job and resulting income.
-Otis Johnson, Student Assistant 1957-58

I presume (hopefully ) that the Statute of Limitations absolves us of any financial liability or possible prison time.

I confess that Bob Ryan, Jerry Burson, and myself, Jim Gigoux, were the ones who originated the Baptism of the OSU Library Fountain, with US Navy orange sea dye and two boxes of tide. The Orange Foam stacked up a minimum of 10- to 12 feet.
-Jim Gigoux, Graduate 1955 and 1957


The 1960s

"How the OSU library saved my medical career and maybe my life"
One Friday evening while living at East Bennett Hall, a friend returned late from hunting on the Cimarron River. He had shot a skunk, dissected out the scent gland and put it in water-filled pickle jar. "Lets have some fun", he said. "Lets take this up to the forth floor and dump it out." The fourth floor was vacant because of so many freshman failures, making it an ideal spot for our prank.

Being game for some action we went up two flights of stairs and dumped the skunk's scent gland onto the fourth floor hallway. Because the scent did not flow immediately my friend stepped on the sack, causing the the thick fluid to squirt out all over the floor. We quickly raced to our second floor room to hide and watch our fellow residents' reactions as the smell began to spread. However, the skunk odor was greater than anticipated. We immediately gathered our books and fled to the library to hide out.

We "studied" until the midnight closing and then returned to a very strong smelling dorm. All the floor counselors were armed with flashlights in the East Bennett attic looking for a skunk that had somehow gained access into the dormitory. Our little joke had turned serious. The smell was overpowering. After a careful, but unsuccessful search for a live skunk, everyone begin to believe that someone was playing a prank.

There was talk from the school authorities that if the pranksters were found they would be expelled from school. And worse, our angry fellow residents suggested serious bodily harm. As a Pre-Med student this had me worried. In those days even a small blot on a canidate's record was enough to keep a student out of Medical School. And, this was more than a small blot!

People suspected that my friend and I were somehow involved in this prank. However, both of us knew the value of absolute silence.It is only now, forty-two years later, that I think it is finally safe to confess that those pranksters were Everett Cox, later President of Oklahoma Mortgage Company, and Lynn Myers MD, pathologist and former Director of the Laboratory at Deaconess Hospital Oklahoma City. Our present whereabouts, however, must be omitted for fear of some former East Bennett Hall residents who have a long memory and have not yet learned the value of forgiveness.

And that is how the OSU library saved my career and maybe my life.
-Lynn Myers, MD

Working at the Edmon Low Library was the best job on campus in the early 1960s, according to Wes Watkins, '60, ag ed, '61, M.S. "It was a great way to meet people," he says, "and a great way to put names and faces together."

As head doorman, Watkins checked books as students left the library, and in December of 1961, he met Lou (Rogers), '64, pol sci, '66, M.S., sec ed.

"It was during the Christmas holiday, and I was working the extra hours while most of the other guys were visiting their families," he says. "Another guy who was working at the same time told me about a cute girl who was studying on the second floor, so of course I had to make the rounds to check her out."

Wes, who served as president of both the student body and student senate, noticed Lou was reading political science books and struck up a conversation. When he asked if she'd like to go get a Coke, Lou told him no. She had too much studying to do, but she did give him a hint about how to find her.

"I told him my daddy was a Presbyterian minister in Cushing, and I was home for the holidays," she says. "Sure enough he appeared on my doorstep, and we did go get that Coke."

They started dating in January 1962 and were married June 9, 1963. This spring Wes retires from the U.S. House of Representatives after 20 years of service. In June the couple will celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary.

"The library was a huge, impressive structure in the 1960s," Wes says, "and today it continues to be a modernistic, high-tech structure equipped for the 21st century."
Excerpt from Love in the Library by Janet Varnum

Lynda (Webb) and Charles E. "Chuck" Nelson are convinced that fate directed them to the third floor of the Edmon Low Library on March 6, 1962. It was there that a mutual friend, Ron Payne '65 bus, introduced Lynda, a fashion design major from Ardmore, Okla., to Chuck, a business major from Oklahoma City.

"It was love at first sight," says Chuck, '65 mktg, who was attending a required study session at the library with fellow Kappa Alpha fraternity pledges. Instead of returning to his house with his pledge brothers, Chuck sneaked away from the group and escorted Lynda back to Willard Hall. Unfortunately, they bumped into his fraternity president, who later rewarded Chuck with additional hours of library study.

But the couple began dating, and when they discovered they shared the same birth date, Sept. 10, 1942, they knew their encounter had to be more than coincidence. "He asked me when I was born," Lynda says, "and when I told him, he wouldn't believe me. He wanted to know who had told me his birthday."

Their love continued to grow, even during the next year when Lynda was accepted into New York's Tobe-Coburn School for Fashion Careers, until they each graduated and married on Jan. 30, 1965.

Through the years, they've returned to campus for athletic events and to show their sons their former residences, Theta Pond, and, of course, the Edmon Low Library.

Chuck, chief executive officer of Liberty Bank in Oklahoma City, says he's amazed at how fate brought him and Lynda together at the library.

"What if I didn't have to go study that night with the other Kappa Alpha pledges? Or what if Lynda had been accepted into the New York fashion school two years earlier?" Chuck wonders. "It's clear it was just meant to be."
Excerpt from Love in the Library by Janet Varnum

I was a Student Assistant, in the Biological Sciences area. At that time, we weren't just divided into Science/Engineering and Humanities/Social Sciences, as we are now. I did some book shelving, but also checked in periodicals. I checked out books, we still had checkout cards then, and answered an occasional reference question. The questions I remember usually involved finding a periodical.

We had the Biological Abstracts index in paper, and I'd show people a bit about using that. We all know that libraries are a good place to find stuff--and in this library, my "best" find of all time was a peanut butter sandwich that some patron left in the stacks on the west end of first floor. The brown bag was on the shelf for several days, so I decided somebody really had abandoned it!
-Helen Peeler Clements, Student Assistant 1963-66, Librarian 2000-Present

Kay (Rutherford) '66 elem ed, and Richard Dixon '64 pre-med, met on a blind date Feb. 8, 1964, at the OSU-OU wrestling match, and spent the remainder of the semester together on at least one study date a weekend at the Edmon Low Library.

"He was studying to go to medical school, so either Friday or Saturday night had to be a study date at the library," Kay says. "He picked me up at the Zeta house, and we'd go study at the library, then go over to the Union to eat or get a cup of coffee."

After graduating, Richard went to Baylor College of Medicine, while Kay completed her degree at OSU. "We both dated other people during those two years, but I knew he was the special one," she says. The Tulsa couple have been married 36 years and have two grown children.

"The library was a fun place to be," Kay says. "People spent a lot of time there. It was not unusual to meet friends at the library, especially if we were doing research or working on papers at the same time." "The Sigma Chi house was a great place to live, be with friends and have a good time," Richard adds, "but the library was the place to be for quality study time."
Excerpt from Love in the Library by Janet Varnum


The 1970s

Each time I walk up the stairs beside the fountain to attend campus meetings I'm drawn back to my years as a co-ed. Memory takes me to an unforgettably embarrassing walk past the library wall on a warm, sunny spring afternoon when a group of guys used signs, jeers and cheers to rate passing co-eds on the Bo Derek '10' scale. It's as funny and humiliating today as it was all those years ago.
-Cheryl Jones, OSU student 1974-78, Friends of the OSU Library Board member 1998-present

Unlike Kevin, I never worked at the Library, although I spent a lot of time there, particularly in grad school. I had to write a lot of papers! But my fondest memory of the Library actually occurred outside, in the plaza in front. My last year of grad school, a bunch of fraternity boys spent day after day sitting out on the wall, holding up numbers to judge the girls who walked by - a legacy of the movie "Ten." I was Asst. Head Resident in Willard Hall at the time, and the girls were really incensed by the boys' actions. So they organized and beat the boys to the wall one day. They worked in shifts and spent the day at the wall, rating the boys. There's even a picture of these girls in the Library's photo archives. The Library is such a focal point for all OSU students - just hearing the bells brings back such great memories.
-Priscilla Gerfen, Graduate 1972 and 1984, Friends of the OSU Library Board of Directors 1997-present


The 1980s

I spent a lot of my time in the library since I worked there and I was working on my Education degree with a specialization in library science. I would love to know what happened to Dr. McCorkle, I think her name was. I believe I was one of the first women to be allowed to build shelving in the library. It was hard work but a nice break from shelving, maintaining copiers or helping out in circulation. I remember driving a little electric cart around campus to work on shelving. I also helped do some major shifting of collections. I have a very strong dislike for dark beer after picking up cups left by tobacco chewers in my shelving days. Yuck!
-Lisa Casto, Librarian, 1978-1982

OSU's Library is where I met my (male) best friend, Dr. David Hanser, and my future wife & (female) best friend, Charlotte Johnson. Man, the stories I could tell...
-Bill Harroff, Librarian, 1981-1984

Courtney (Yates) '86 ind eng, '88 M.S., and Bruce Baugher '85 chem eng, '88 M.S., '02 D.O., were both graduate engineering students in May 1987 when they met at the Edmon Low Library, where both were working summer jobs.

"I had a teaching assistantship," Courtney says, "and Bruce had a research assistantship. We met during those first couple of weeks in our jobs and then dated for a year and a half before marrying in August 1988.

"The library is a special place for us," she adds. "I remember after Bruce graduated we checked to see if his thesis was on file at the library, and he was pretty fired up that it was in the card catalog."

Last year in honor of their newly adopted daughter, the Baughers donated a gift to the children's literature section of the library. "The library has a soft spot in our hearts," Bruce says. "That's one reason we joined the OSU Friends of the Library, because we're interested in its progress. We like to visit it when we come back to campus for library and athletic events."

After graduation, they moved to Louisiana for two years, then Tulsa, both working in their respective engineering fields. In 1998, Bruce decided to pursue his longtime interest in medicine, and enrolled in OSU's Center for Health Sciences. Today he's in his first year of residency.

Times have changed, and the Baughers say they enjoy watching the improvements in technology that continually take the library to a higher standard of service for students.

"We worked at the library before the files were computerized," Courtney says. "I typed overdue notices on a typewriter, and Bruce checked out books with the old stamp method. It's incredible what the library can do for students now."
Excerpt from Love in the Library by Janet Varnum

At night, in the children's library on the 5th floor, it would get very quiet. I spent some great times up there reading books from the children's library while the moon shone in through the windows. It felt, somehow, like I was going back in time...
-Mark Malaby, Student Assistant 1988-89

Countless couples have met for dates at the Edmon Low Library over the years, but Mona (Low) and Ed Smith are the only couple to marry there.

"I had just lost my grandfather, Edmon Low, and I wanted him to be there," says the Stillwater resident who married her husband, Ed, in the library's Browsing Room on Saturday, April 18, 1987.

"I chose the Browsing Room because that's where my grandpa's picture was displayed," she says. Family friend Roscoe Rouse, who was head librarian at the time, allowed the couple to marry in the library and even use his office as a changing room.

Mona, who attended graduate business classes at OSU, remembers her grandfather as loving and kind. "He liked to spoil us rotten," she says. "He never raised his voice. He and my grandmother, Mayme, were just nice people."
Excerpt from Love in the Library by Janet Varnum

I remember walking the floors trying to catch "the slasher," browsing the children's books back when the CML was on the 5th floor, and catching the new Dean of the library bringing in coffee on his first day of work, and telling him he had to go back outside to drink it (no drinks were permitted at the time, and I didn't know who he was), and being excited about the new "online file catalog," but still checking the paper card catalog, just to be safe.
-Cynthia Rogers, Student Assistant, 1987-89

My favorite memory of working at the library was when I worked in the 5th floor, Gov. Docs under John Phillips. The staff would always bring food for us like doughnuts or homemade bread to snack on. I looked forward to going to work to eat! The secretary would make us get on a ladder and dust the high shelves because Mr. Phillips was really tall and we wanted it to look to good for him. (He was the only one who would notice that high) I am grateful for the times that John and Vicki would invite the 5th floor staff and students over to their house for Christmas dinner. It was so nice to be a part of a family while I was away at college. I placed an ornament that they gave me almost 15 years ago, on my Christmas tree this year. I still have it, and it means a lot to me. The ornament got me remembering about working there, and I decided to browse the OSU site. That's when I saw the link to, "Did you ever work at the library?" and decided to share some of these memories!
-Kristine Morgan, Student Assistant 1988-92


The 1990s

While working security I opened the library many mornings. I would get to the Library around 6 a.m. and proceed to the security desk and grab a flashlight. The first stop was the basement. Morning after morning I would walk through the dark stacks and would have to reach back into the stacks to turn on light switches that were on columns between stacks. Four or five times I could swear that someone was down there with me and several times I heard my name called. There was an area in the Southwest corner of the basement where, without fail, the hair on the back of my neck would stand up, the same location everytime! I learned to move very quickly through that part of the basement. After several months of this I finally said something to my security supervisor, and he told me all these stories about a worker who had died during construction. I am not much for believing in ghosts, but I consistently felt at unease in that one area of the basement and felt that way before I ever heard any stories!
-John Nicholas Shannon, Student Assistant 1995-96

I have seen a lot of things happen in the Library during my employment here. There was one event that could have been serious but ended up causing only a little excitement to an otherwise routine day. The Library used to have water-cooling equipment on the roof. This equipment was removed sometime during 1992. Therein lies my story.

During my employment with the Documents Dept. which is currently over eighteen years, I have become the self-appointed photo-archivist for our department. We are located on the fifth floor of the Library. One afternoon, while men were working on the roof, we heard a terrible noise somewhere out in the stacks. A motor had fallen while it was being lifted and tore through the roof and all the way into the ceiling tiles above one of our stack sections. It came to a halt next to a fluorescent light fixture. The motor was just sitting there, half in and half out of the ceiling. All of us who were outside the office area and heard the racket immediately rushed towards the noise. We stared in shock at this foreign object that looked like it could continue on its downward path with any sudden movement. Luckily there were no students or staff in that area when it happened. Our shock was quickly replaced by action as we set up barricades to prevent people from entering the area and risking injury.

I stayed out of the way when the men from the Physical Plant came over to assess the damage and do what was necessary for repairs. Eventually, I decided this was a happening worthy of recording with my camera which I always keep at my desk. A man was on a ladder reconnecting electrical wires to the fluorescent light fixture when I made my appearance with camera in hand. I suppose I should have warned him why I was there, but I wanted a candid shot and went ahead and took my picture. There is absolutely no doubt that the camera's flash gave him considerable cause for concern. I'm lucky he didn't cause me any bodily harm. I'm afraid my reaction was to find it amazingly funny and laughed uncontrollably. All to the dismay of my boss who had been talking to the man while he worked. The workman found no humor in it at all! I didn't stick around to hear his opinion of my actions, although my boss filled me in later. I must tell you I didn't venture back into that area until I knew the work was finished.

I still take lots of pictures, but hopefully I'll have the foresight to never scare the life out of anyone again.
-Marian K. Chitwood, Library Technical Assistant 1984 to present

On the Library's first website, "Basically, it was a white page, with a photo of the library, identifying it as the Library website. The original page was "infamous" for the laundry list of pages and links to most all of the databases at that time (PQD) and firstsearch. It was a no frills website, with links to everything from the main page, in the laundry list form. All I remember was people screaming bloody murder when we tried to create a hierarchy of pages.

There were very few images on the original page, because we were concerned about speed of loading. We avoided netscapeism or IEisms. We kept it quite simple and basic -- almost vanilla, because my big thing at that time was code to the content, not the appearance."
-Dan Chaney, Librarian 1992 to present



URL: http://www.library.okstate.edu/news/news/50/story.htm
Last Updated: 21 May 2008

Media Contact:

Bonnie Ann Cain-Wood, APR
Email: lib-pub@okstate.edu
Phone: (405) 744-7331

225 Edmon Low Library
Oklahoma State University
Stillwater, OK 74078-1071

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