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            The Beginning

                Xavier University of Louisiana began its life in 1925 in buildings vacated by the move of Southern University to Baton Rouge in 1912. By 1931 the
                campus was moved to its present location upon the completion of the Indiana limestone English Gothic Administration Building located on what
                was then Palmetto Street (now Drexel Drive). The first library to serve this campus was located on the second floor of that building.

                In October 1937, a separate library, also of Gothic design, was opened next door. This new library was originally a closed-stack facility, with
                students serving as library pages. At the time this library was opened, only the second floor was actually used for library collections and study
                space. The ground floor provided faculty offices and space for a large museum. The third floor, an unfinished attic, was used for art classes in the
                early days. It served a student population of approximately 500 undergraduate, graduate, and pharmacy students.

                After World War II, returning veterans swelled the ranks of the student population, and demands on the Library’s collections and services became
                more intense. In the 1970s, Library Director Leslie R. Morris opened the stacks and expanded services to include a media center, an African-
                American book room, and a computerized circulation system. By now, the third floor had been finished and housed the Media Center, a television
                studio operated by the Communications Department, and the offices of some program staff.

                Between the middle 1980s and the early 1990s, the student population at Xavier grew from approximately 1,700 to nearly 3,400 students. This
                unprecedented growth strained the space, staffing, and collections of the existing Library. Strides in educational technology placed an additional
                pressure to make the Library more technologically advanced in its approach to service.

            A New Library

                The small size of the original library was being felt as early as the late 1980s. Talks had been underway since the middle 1980s concerning a
                proposed expansion of the original 1937 building. Architectural considerations eventually dictated the design and construction of a completely new
                building that would incorporate modern lighting, environmental control, and accommodations for newer educational technologies.

                Blitch and Associates and Billes-Manning Architects were engaged to produce a plan, and in the summer of 1991 ground was broken for a new
                structure. It was completed in time for the 1993-1994 school year, offering seating for nearly 800 simultaneous users. Features of particular
                note were a state-of-the-art Instructional Media Center and a modern archival facility, complete with its own temperature and humidity control and
                waterless fire extinguishing system.

            Library Technology

                The earliest attempt to modernize the Library technologically came in 1979, when Director Leslie R. Morris formed a partnership with Loyola
                University Library that resulted in the installation of a CLSI integrated library system. The system included an automated circulation system
                and the basis for creating an online catalog.

                Almost a decade later, after discussions with Loyola, a decision was made to separate from the partnership and purchase a newer, more flexible
                library system. In 1988, a contract with signed with Virginia Tech Library Systems (VTLS) to fully automate Xavier's library services. This
                project required several years of intense effort by various members of the Library staff and Computer Center. By 1993, circulation was completely
                automated, and XAC(Xavier Automated Catalog), an electronic catalog, had completely replaced the conventional card catalog.

                During the 1990s, additional improvements made possible the creation of catalog records for serials and government documents. Members of the
                University Archives and Special Collections staff began to input descriptive records for unpublished collections of manuscripts, diaries, letters,
                photographs, and three-dimensional items.

                In 1999 the original VTLS software was superseded by VIRTUA, the latest version. With that came XACWeb, which includes an improved record
                format and capability of performing a complex search with Boolean operators.

                In the early 1980s, electronic searches of various literature were performed by librarians as intermediaries. Using a “dumb terminal” and dedicated
                telephone line, it was possible to access remotely-located databanks using a time-share system based on a price-per-minute access.

                We began experimenting with floppy disk and CD-ROM databases in the early 1990s. These were rather crude, single person stations that
                required a manual update of the files every so many months. While they were often faster than manual searches of printed indexes, equipment
                breakdowns were frequent, which left much to be desired.

                Recognizing the increasing influence of the World Wide Web on academic research, an office of Library Systems was created in 1998 with a
                mandate to make the Internet available to Library users. It was a lengthy process that took several years, requiring countless man hours to
                construct a fiber-optic backbone in the Library and other academic buildings, along with hubs, routers, and servers. It was an effort that consumed
                the attention of a restructured Information Technology Center and university administrators, as well as Library staff.

                Although a rudimentary web page leading to a small selection of web-based online services was available as early as 1999, it wasn’t until
                2001 that the Library achieved a true web presence. Now reachable through a separate URL, the Library’s web page offers a gateway to XACWeb,                 access to full-text online databases, and a growing collection of e-books and e-journals.

                With the arrival of a new University Librarian, and a new Systems Librarian, we began to identify new areas of the library where technology
                was lacking. A new committee was formed for the purpose of assessment of web presence, current technologies, and electronic resources.
                Several areas were targeted and the process of “upgrading” began.

                Major changes were made to the library website to increase functionality and usability with the idea that it would continue to grow with
                the library and be a more dynamic tool for the XULA community. New services were implemented including ILLiad, for interlibrary Loan, Refworks
                for bibliography building, and a collection of Springshare products that would assist Reference Librarians in the research process. These new
                technologies allowed for the creation of Subject Guides, Course Guides, Live Chat Assistance and a comprehensive self-growing knowledge base.

                In January 2014, after a thorough assessment of ILS needs and expectations, we decided to begin seeking out a new system to replace our
                26yr old Legacy System. We explored many options and came to the conclusion that our best fit was to extend our services provided through
                LOUIS: the Louisiana Library Network, and get on board with the ILS that the majority of sites in the consortium were already using –
                SirsiDynix Symphony. After several months of building new policies, training staff, and migrating data, we went live in the new
                system May 2014.
                

            AV Materials

                An instructional media center has been part of the Library since the late 1970s, and it has altered its role as educational technology has
                changed and improved. In 1979 the collections were composed mainly of 16 and 35 millimeter films, filmstrips, and both 33 1/3 and 78 RPM disk
                recordings. Early forms of video, including U-Matic and Beta format were beginning to be added to the arsenal.

                By the early 1990s, many of the earlier forms of video had been replaced by VHS player/monitors, large-screen color television monitors, and
                compact disc recordings.

                As we entered the twenty-first century, the demands of distance education have meant more changes still. In 2000, the Library revised the role
                of the Instructional Media Center to prepare for the advent of newer educational technologies and the demands of distance education.

            Collections

                The collection is currently composed of approximately 135,000 volumes and more than 1,500 active serial titles. The microform collection numbers
                over 725,000 units, and there are more than 2,500 Federal documents received as part of the Federal Depository Program. The Instructional Media                 Center holds nearly 6,000 recordings on compact disc, tape, or vinyl disk, and nearly 1,600 VHS tapes.

                At the center of our publicly accessible collections is University Archives and Special Collections, which specializes in the history of the University,                 African-American history and culture, creative writing of the modern South, local history, and United States Catholicism. Here, students may see a
                collection of letters written by Richard Wright, original manuscripts by Langston Hughes, Chester Himes, and Robert Hayden, and rare
                photographs of Booker T. Washington and Marcus Garvey.

                On the shelves are early books and incunabula, rare and autographed books by William Faulkner, Shirley Ann Grau, John A. Williams,Terry McMillan
                and Walter Mosley. Other treasures include one of the few known copies of Les Cenelles, the first anthology of poetry by people of African
                descent in the United States, an early reprint of Phyllis Wheatley’s poems, a poem in the hand of Frederick Douglass, and a collection of draft
                manuscripts by Louisiana-born fiction writer Andre Dubus.

                More recently, Library staff and members of Xavier’s Center for the Advancement of Teaching wrote a successful proposal to Mellon that, combined with                 money from Model Institutes of Excellence, enabled us to purchase twenty-six computer workstations and three CD-ROM towers. This
                equipment became the nucleus of the Library’s local area network and the foundation on which our current technology was built.


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