HomepageLibrary and Information TechnologyFrom the Archives: The Big Move

From the Archives: The Big Move

In October 1970, amid unrest and mounting tensions on campus between students and the administration over segregated dorm rules and enforcement of the social rules, the Myrin Book Walk event brought people together for the good of all.

On October 6th and 7th, 1970, an extraordinary event happened on the Ursinus College Campus. Students, faculty, staff, administration, and alumni participated in the “Book Walk” (also referred to as the “Big Walk” or the “Big Move”). During the “Book Walk” approximately 85,000 books from the Library Collection were physically carried across campus from the “Old Library” (the Alumni Memorial Library, now the Berman Museum of Art) to the New Library (Myrin).

Students walk to Alumni Memorial Library to collect books during the Book Walk.

In anticipation of the upcoming BIG day, messages were written in “The Ursinus College Daily Bulletin”—September 22, 1970–THE BIG DAY IS COMING— “Any Volunteer help … will be appreciated. If you can give us an hour, or two, or three, we’ll appreciate it. Wear old clothes.” On September 29, –“There are a few openings available on M Day for both students and faculty. Thinkers are needed as dispatchers and receivers, while those with strong backs are needed on the carrying line.” On October 6th, 1970— “TODAY IS THE DAY! Carrying begins at 8:15. Come to the Old Library in old clothes. Follow the traffic lines. Thanks for your help.” The momentous task, however, was not completed in one day and on October 7 – “A GREAT BIG THANK YOU to all students, faculty, administration, and alumni who helped in the Book Move yesterday. We didn’t quite make it. If you can give us a hand today from 8:30 on, we can finish the job.” An earlier message said, “This job is for the good of all of us.”

Students carry books into Myrin Library during the Book Walk.

On a lighter note, students were eager to use the new library for study but were encouraged not to do so until the books were in place. On October 2, 1970—”MYRIN LIBRARY is not open for study until Tuesday, October 6. If you cannot resist studying in it, please leave by 4:00pm. Several students have been locked in.”

Calvin D. Yost, Jr., College Librarian, wrote in the “Letters to the Editor” column of the October 22, 1970 issue of “The Ursinus Weekly”: “I wish to express the sincere appreciation of the College at large, the library staff, and myself personally for the splendid cooperation and help of students, faculty, and administration in carrying the library collection to the Myrin Library on Tuesday and Wednesday, October 6 and 7 … Again, please accept our warmest appreciation and congratulations on a job well done.”

The Alumni Memorial Library was built in 1923 as a memorial to students and alumni who died in World War I. For many years, men were required to sit in the left half of the main reading room and women on the right side. After many years the Old Library was bursting at its seams and a new library was needed.

Myrin Library opened in October 1970, and was dedicated on May 2, 1971. Named after Mr. H. Alarik W. Myrin, who with his wife founded the Kimberton Farm School. The Myrin Library was more spacious and contained more reading and study areas than the Alumni Memorial Library. And now, 53 years later, it’s still a popular study space for the current students of Ursinus.

Students leave Myrin after dropping books off there during the Book Walk.

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Carolyn Weigel
Archives & Special Collections Librarian

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