In September 1961, Wagner moved its library out of the Main Hall attic and into the new Horrmann Library building. Next year, Wagner Magazine will mark the library’s 50th anniversary with articles, photos, and reminiscences. In that connection, we’d like to hear what the library has meant to the people who have used it through the years. What role has it played in campus life? To get the ball rolling, I contacted Carol Gaise Crews ’62.
The sociology and anthropology major from Kingston, New York, was a senior at Wagner when the library first opened its doors. As she put it, “we watched it being built” on the hillside known to students as Chapel Knoll.
Crews painted a vivid picture of Wagner student life before and after Horrmann. “Facilities in the ’50s were marginal,” she said, especially in light of the postwar student boom that had swelled enrollment fourfold. The campus lacked public space for student life, especially for quiet study. There was no Union. The Hawk’s Nest, in the basement of Main Hall, was always crowded. The lounges in the dorms were for socializing and watching television. The library in Main Hall was a cramped and shabby space that was always hot, both in the winter and the summer.
When the Horrmann Library opened, Crews said, it was like the difference between “an old clunker and a beautiful luxury car.” It was bright, it was spacious, it had a brand-new climate control system, and it was pleasant, with its large windows looking out to the harbor (the view now taken over by the Union).
“It was a tremendous boon to campus,” she said, “A lot of students went there to study. It was a really busy place.”
What do you remember about Horrmann Library’s role at Wagner College? Please share your stories, and look for next year’s 50th anniversary celebrations of the Horrmann Library.
— Laura Barlament, Editor, Wagner Magazine