The Lewis J. Ort Library at Frostburg State University is celebrating 30 years in its current building. On April 11, 1976, the library opened its new doors to the students and faculty of Frostburg State College. The current building is the campus library’s fifth home since 1902.
Originally, the library consisted of one room on the first floor of Old Main, the first building on the FSU campus. Known as the Book Room, the library remained there for 26 years until it outgrew its location. The 7,000 book collection then moved to the entire third floor of Old Main in 1928. By 1954, the library collection tripled in size, making it necessary to take over the ground floor of Lowndes Hall. Within 10 years, the library grew to 50,000 books, requiring the library to move for a third time to Framptom Hall, a new campus building dedicated to the library. The library continued to grow at such a rate that within 12 years, it contained over 283,000 books, causing serious space problems in Framptom.
The current building, built in 1976 at the cost of $6 million dollars, was designed by Rogers and Vaeth, Inc., from Columbia, Md. The library originally occupied the second, third and fourth floors of the building, with the fifth floor ready for the next growth of the library’s collection. The fifth floor also contained 30 individual cubicles for study and later had several offices added to its perimeter.
Presently, the library has over 711,000 items in its collection. In addition, the library provides access to approximately 50 databases that include over 22,000 journals, periodicals and newspapers through the Research Port interface. Research port and many other resources are available on the library Web site at www.frostburg.edu/dept/library. The library also maintains 48 public terminals throughout the building to provide access to the databases, the online card catalog and the Internet.
In 1990, the library was officially dedicated and named the Lewis J. Ort Library after a local successful businessman and humanitarian in Western Maryland.
The interior of the library building has changed since its opening in 1976. The Pearl F. Ort Room was erected on a portion of the fourth floor in 1993 to provide a formal meeting facility on campus with seating for 30 individuals. The Library Instruction Classroom, with 24 individual workstations and one instruction terminal, was constructed on the third floor in 1997 with the first instruction classes held in February 1998. The J. Glenn Beall Archives was constructed in 2001 using existing space on the fourth floor to store the Beall Collection, the Meyers Collection of communism and Marxist literature and Price Railroad Photo Collection.
During this time, the institution was evolving and changing from State Normal School to Frostburg State Teacher’s College to Frostburg State College to the present Frostburg State University. The library growth occurred under the guidance of only three directors -- Helen Hough, 1926-1957; John Zimmerman, 1957-1983; and current director David Gillespie, who has held the title since 1984.