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A quiet place for 46 years

The AOK Library has gone through many different changes

Andrew Mayn

Contributing Writer

Summary: The library is one of the most popular buildings on campus, but many students are unaware of its long history.

Most students are familiar with the view from the seventh floor of the Albin O. Kuhn Library. Through the floor to ceiling windows, beyond the dense perimeter of foliage that encircles the campus, you can see where Baltimore juts from the horizon in a collection of glimmering spires.

This view, however, would not have been possible 20 years ago. In those days, there was no seventh floor. In fact, the library tower, whose shadow stretches over Erikson field, was not there at all.

Construction on the third through seventh floors, where many students spend most of their time, was not completed until 1995. Remarkably, the library remained open throughout the process.

Although this had the potential to be the noisiest period in the library’s history, Gail Blacker, a Library Technician and 25 year veteran of library, recalls that strict regulations were in place to control the noise. Quiet, it seems, has always been a top priority of the library.

The tower was not the first change to come to the library, according to Blacker. The east wing, or what is now considered the first and second floors, was completed in 1975. The area now known as the RLC used to be filled with atlases and government documents in an age before Google Maps.

Students familiar with the gallery might be surprised to know that it was once the home of the circulations desk. Marcus Dagold, Library Technician and 22 year employee, recounted that at one point the often overlooked double doors at the gallery’s entrance (to the left of the atrium entrance) were actually the library’s main entrance.

These changes have been necessary to accommodate UMBC’s growth as well as the library’s ever expanding collection. The library now has over 1,000,000 items, not including the 1,900,000 photographs and slides, according to Nicole Balogun, a Reference Assistant and junior psychology major.

Still, the library is more than just a vast collection of resources. Its employees, both students and staff, are part of a living history. Though the library has gone through many evolutions since its construction in 1968, one constant has been the quiet dedication of the employees who not only take care of the building and its contents, but also the students who depend on it.