Introduction

Gordon Library at Forty logo

[Please note: Gordon Library @ 40 is an inactive online exhibit maintained for reference purposes by WPI's Curation, Preservation, and Archives. Information contained in the original website was migrated to The Foundry in March 2016.]

The George C. Gordon Library is celebrating 40 years of service excellence to Worcester Polytechnic Institute. Dedicated in 1967, Gordon Library fulfilled the Institute’s dream of a modern, centralized library to serve the research and instructional needs of the WPI community. Prior to 1967, WPI maintained branch libraries for each academic department in addition to a general reference library, housed first in Boynton Hall and later in Alden Memorial Hall.

In 1964, WPI received a bequest of $5 million from the Ohio businessman and distinguished alumnus George Crompton Gordon (Class of 1895). The bequest provided the Institute with an opportunity to create a new modern library that could accommodate study facilities for 600 students, shelf space for 200,000 volumes, “electronic data retrieval systems, microfilm readers, audio-visual aids,” additional space for a college archives, and art exhibits. WPI selected the architectural firm O.E. Naults & Son to design the new library and broke ground in 1965. The Library was completed during the 1966-1967 academic year and officially dedicated on October 28, 1967.

Forty years later, Gordon Library continues to serve the WPI community. The Library boasts holdings of over 270,000 volumes of books and periodicals, access to over 70,000 electronic journals, books, and databases, and houses special collections of more than 2,000 linear feet and 4,000 volumes of archival materials and rare books. The Library has created new study and instructional facilities including the multimedia Tech Suites, Multimedia Lab, and Anderson Instruction Labs. The Library also hosts 8 art and history exhibits per year in its two galleries, the Class of 1941 Gallery and the George Gladwin Art Gallery.

This website, Gordon Library @ 40, is part of a year-long celebration that includes a series of special events to commemorate the Library’s 40 years of excellence. The site offers a collection of historical documents, photographs, and memorabilia that chronicle the special history of Gordon Library as well as the general history of libraries at WPI. It also includes podcasts of oral histories of long-time and retired staff members--providing invaluable insights into Gordon Library’s four decades.