History of Hannon Library


The institution now known as Southern Oregon University can trace its earliest beginnings to the foundation of the Ashland Academy in 1869, a private preparatory school established by the Methodist Episcopal Church in Ashland. In 1895, the University was officially renamed Southern Oregon Normal School and held classes on a site located about a mile south of the present campus. In 1909, the state legislature voted to withdraw funding for all state normal schools, and Southern didn’t reopen until 1926, when it was headquartered in Churchill Hall.

The mission of the Library at the time of the University reopening in 1926 was to provide resources for the training of teaching professionals, including a collection of the best children’s literature of the day, and “books of general culture.” The Library of 1926-27 was located in one large room on the first floor of Churchill Hall, which also housed the University administration and classrooms. Students had access to the Library’s complete collection of books, documents, and periodicals. Materials were classified by the Dewey Decimal System, and a card catalog was provided. A total of 75 periodicals and several daily and weekly newspapers were regularly received by the Library; and the Library was open on Saturday mornings as well as during the school day and evenings during the week. By the early 1930s, the Library collection had grown to 6,000 volumes, including a reference section, and periodical subscriptions had grown to 85.

The advent of World War II brought a crisis in enrollment at the University, culminating with a total student body of only 45 in the academic year 1945-46. The trend in enrollment had been downward in the pre-war years, and it was recognized that stringent measures were required to save the University. A new president, Elmo Stevenson, took over in 1946 and inaugurated the strong period of development of the University which continues today. By 1948, the Library had expanded to several crowded rooms, still on the first floor of Churchill Hall. It included almost 21,000 volumes of books and bound periodicals, and map and document collections. The core collection of reference and “professional” volumes comprised 14,500 works, and 159 periodical subscriptions were taken. The Library also held a collection of public textbooks by this time. Other services available at this time included a statewide interlibrary loan.

In response to space needs and the dramatic growth in enrollment, a new Library Classroom Building was finished in 1951, located in what is now Central Hall. The University Library was housed on the second floor and had open stacks, microform reading facilities, reading rooms, typing rooms, and staff offices. The children’s literature and curriculum collections were on the first floor. This new facility, in turn, was soon outgrown. In 1967 a modern, for the time, three-story library building of opened its doors. This building remains part of the current Library building. Collection resources and services continued to expand and improve, as the University grew in enrollment and the number and type of degrees offered. The library’s online catalog became available to the public in 1993.

By the 1990’s the “new” building was already at capacity. In 2000, the Library housed over 300,000 volumes, nearly 300,000 government publications, and around 2,000 periodical subscriptions, as well as collections of maps, films, microforms, and other materials. Recognizing the critical need for more and improved library spaces, a campus committee was convened to plan for an expanded library. The campus Library Program and Design Committee’s charge was to select an architect and begin development of a conceptual plan that would consider site needs, cost, preliminary floor plans, and functional areas.

In the fall of 2001, SRG Partnership of Portland was selected as the architect for the Library Enhancement Project. The planning committee toured academic libraries throughout Oregon and began participating in a series of workshops with architects. The project budget was finalized at $23,200,000. The collaborative design phase resulted in a plan to remodel the existing building and build an addition that would double the size of the Library. SRG developed construction documents in 2002 and Emerick Construction was selected as the general contractor. Pine Hall was demolished in December of 2002 to make way for the library addition.

The March 7, 2003 groundbreaking featured many dignitaries including OUS Chancellor Richard Jarvis, Representative Alan Bates, and Senator Lenn Hannon. Construction of the new addition began immediately after groundbreaking. Concurrently the existing first floor was remodeled to house the new reference, maps, and government publications areas, which were open to students for fall term 2003. The new addition opened in June 2004, followed by the remodeled third floor in fall 2004. The second floor remodel, the final part of the building project, opened in February 2005.

On February 20, 2004 the name of the Library was officially changed to “The Lenn and Dixie Hannon Library” in recognition of the contributions to Oregon made by Senator Lenn and Dixie Hannon. SOU requested that an exception be made to the Oregon Administrative Rule precluding the naming of facilities for persons who are living. The Oregon University System board unanimously approved this request at the February 20, 2004 board meeting. The total cost of the Enhancement Project was $23.5 million. Senator Hannon led the process to secure $20 million in state bonding.

On May 18, 2005, newly completed Lenn and Dixie Hannon Library was officially dedicated. On hand were Michael Gorman, President-elect of the American Library Association and Bruce R. James, the Public Printer of the United States and head of the Government Printing Office. James came in recognition of Hannon Library’s receipt of the 2004 Depository Library of the Year Award. Other dignitaries included Southern Oregon University President Elisabeth Zinser, Sid DeBoer, CEO of Lithia Motors, George Pernsteiner, Acting OUS Chancellor, and Lenn Hannon.

At the completion of the Library Enhancement Project the bright and welcoming building contains electronic classrooms, student computers, a coffee shop, inviting reading areas, a secure and climate-controlled Special Collections/University Archives, fireplace alcoves, attractive current periodicals area, art gallery, meeting rooms, and 22 group study rooms. The library increased in size from 64,380 square feet to 122, 830 square feet. The soaring, glass enclosed entrance rotunda features an award-winning mosaic by artists Robert Stout and Stephanie Jurs.

Today the Southern Oregon University Lenn and Dixie Hannon Library offers access to an ever-growing number of resources for instructional, research, and general information needs. The collections complement the educational programs of SOU and include materials in a variety of formats. Library materials are identified and located using the Online Public Access Catalog (OPAC) which can be searched both on and off campus. Students have access to 325,000 volumes in the general collections, 298,000 government publications, and 2,098 periodical, serial, and newspaper subscriptions. In addition, over 800,000 items are available in microform, ranging from popular magazines to historical materials of scholarly interest. Online access to the fulltext of journals is increasing annually through the nearly 100 research databases to which Hannon Library has licenses; students can access fulltext from over 10,000 journals. Through Hannon Library’s membership in the Orbis Cascade Alliance, students have access to 26 million items at 33 member academic libraries in Washington and Oregon.

Special resources in the Hannon Library include the 8,000 volume Margery Bailey Collection of Shakespeare and English Renaissance materials; recognized collections in Native American studies and viticulture/enology; a local history collection covering the six counties of southern Oregon; 6,500 videos; an extensive map collection; children’s literature and art print collections, and a growing collection of indexed and full-text resources accessible through the Internet. In addition, the Library maintains an Internet web site which is regularly updated with links to new resources. Exemplary grant-funded digitization initiatives and the creation of the Southern Oregon Digital Archives have provided Hannon Library national recognition. Today the Lenn and Dixie Hannon Library has become a cultural, social, and learning center of Southern Oregon University and the region, hosting lectures, musical performances, and other events.