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Penn State University Libraries
University Libraries.png
Established 1857
Location Main Library University Park
Branches 39
Size 5,069,854
Access and use
Circulation 657,762
Other information
Director Nancy L. Eaton, Dean of University Libraries and Scholarly Communications
Staff 576
Pattee Library

The Pennsylvania State University Libraries are the members of Penn State University's library system. The library system consists of 36 libraries at 24 locations in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania.[1] The two main buildings on Penn State's University Park campus are the Pattee and Paterno libraries.



The library's first collection was a donation of 14 books in 1857.[2] Its first permanent location was in Old Main, with 1,500 books in agriculture and the sciences. In 1904, the library was moved to the Carnegie Building (then "Carnegie Library"), which provided a 50,000 book capacity.

By 1940, the library's collection had grown to 150,000, overcrowding Carnegie by three times its capacity. The library was permanently moved to the Pattee Library building. By the 1960s, the collection had grown to 800,000 books.

The Pattee Library was renovated in the late 1990s, and in 2000, it was rededicated along with the new Paterno Library, a portion of which comprises the former East Wing of Pattee. Today, there are 14 libraries at the University Park campus alone, and the entire system boasts a collection of nearly 5 million items.[1]

Pattee Library

The Stacks

Pattee Library is named for Fred Lewis Pattee, regarded as the first professor of American Literature[3] (1895-1928) and author of the Penn State Alma Mater. Pattee Library was built as part of a Public Works Administration-General State Authority project. Construction took place over 1937-1940. Between 1940 and 1973, the library was expanded three times. The "Stacks" or Stack Building was added in 1953, "West Pattee" in 1966, and "East Pattee" in 1973. A renovation which included the construction of the Paterno Library began in 1998, and was completed in 2000.[4]

The Pattee Library includes the circulation area for both libraries, which connects the original mall entrance with the newer Curtin Road entrance. A display case in the mall entrance foyer holds a stuffed eastern mountain lion, the last one killed in Pennsylvania.[5] Another major feature of Pattee is the Paterno Family Humanities Reading Room, a large reading room reminiscent of historical libraries, and the design was based on images of the New York Public Library legal collections room.[6]

The library's prodigious stacks are the subject of numerous rumors among the student body. Legends of sex in the stacks and a phantom pie thrower are regularly passed on through the generations of students. On a darker note, one common legend is in fact true: the level 2 core stacks were the site of a still-unsolved murder in 1969. The body of graduate student Betsy Aardsma was found shortly after she was stabbed in the heart by an unknown assailant, who was never identified.

Pattee is home to the Arts and Humanities Library, Gateway / Instructional Programs, Digitization & Preservation, Reserves, and the News and Microforms library. A section of the library named the Extended Hours Reading Room, made possible by a gift from the class of 1994, is open 24 hours a day excluding Fridays and Saturdays.[1]

Paterno Library

In 1983, as Penn State football coach Joe Paterno was being honored for his first national championship, he gave a speech challenging the university's Board of Trustees to make Penn State number one in academics as well as athletics. He specifically targeted the need for a top-quality library, stating, "Without a great library, you can't have a great university."[4] In 1993, he and his wife Sue began a campaign which raised $13.75 million for the construction of a new library. The groundbreaking for the library, named the Paterno Library in their honor, took place in April 1997. Paterno has also donated several million of his own money towards the library.

Construction was completed by Fall 2000, and the building was dedicated on September 8, 2000. The building is connected to the Pattee Library, and shares a common circulation desk. The former East Wing of Pattee forms a portion of the Paterno Library. Paterno Library is home to the Business, Education and Behavioral Sciences, Life Sciences, Maps, Social Sciences, and Special Collections libraries.

Other Libraries

Other libraries at the University Park campus include:

There are 24 additional libraries in the system, each in a separate campus location of the Penn State University.


  1. ^ a b History of the Libraries. Penn State University Libraries.
  2. ^ Inviting Intellectual DiscoveryA Great Library: The Newsletter of the Penn State University Libraries. Spring 2005
  3. ^
  4. ^ a b New Library Wired For Future Challenges. Penn State Intercom Online. 7 September 2000.
  5. ^ Nittany Lions Are Gone, but Never Forgotten. Penn State Agriculture <Magazine. Winter/Spring 1998.
  6. ^ Paterno Family Humanities Reading Room. University Libraries Virtual Tour

External links



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