KSL 1996 to Today: Celebrating 25 Years of the Library of the Future

2. Before Kelvin Smith Library


“Freiberger was not a stylish building. The building had a dumb waiter that we used to get books from one floor to another. It was fashionable for its time [1950s]. By the time we moved [into KSL], library technology had moved so far ahead that we couldn’t have used Freiberger.”

Timothy Robson, Former Associate Director of Kelvin Smith Library and member of Case Western Reserve University’s Library of the Future Committee in On Reserve: The Magazine of Kelvin Smith Library, Spring 2006

In 1929 Western Reserve University (WRU) one of Case Western Reserve University’s (CWRU) predecessor institutions, appointed Herbert Hirshberg as Director of University Libraries to consolidate the fractured operations of 13 school and 16 department libraries with a combined collection of 360,000 volumes. WRU joined with Case Institute of Technology (CIT) in 1967, this federation formed CWRU. Though located directly across Euclid Avenue from the other, WRU and CIT had very different academic programs, thus very different library collections. CIT was a technical sciences and engineering school served by Sears Library, now the Sears Building on the Quad. WRU was a liberal arts-focused school served by Freiberger Library, now demolished and the site of Freiberger Field and the Nord Family Greenway. 

CWRU’s federation in 1967 combined the administration of the Sears and Freiberger Libraries into a single administrative unit with a combined collection of 840,000 volumes. Though theoretically combined, Sears and Freiberger remained geographically separate until the opening of Kelvin Smith Library in 1996.


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