"We want students and faculty to look on their library with pleasure, and to know that it is theirs to build and to use with our help."
Dorothy Reeder, 1955 Report from the Librarian
After the school’s move to Towson in 1915, the campus library was housed in Stephens Hall alongside classrooms and Administration offices. By 1945, the space was no longer large enough to handle the growing number of materials.
In 1957 a new, dedicated library building opened behind Van Bokkelen Hall. It was named the Albert S. Cook Library after the late Maryland State Superintendent of Schools. Today this original Cook Library building is called the Media Center.
This new building could hold 100,000 volumes and seat 450 students, and hosted state of the art micro-film and micro-card reader technologies, phonograph records, and typewriters.
Almost as soon as it opened, the building was not large enough to handle the increase in enrollment as the post-war generation entered college. Head librarian Dorothy Reeder petitioned the State Board of Education for a new library building, but the request was denied due to the relatively recent construction of the current building. To get the funds for construction, Reeder instead proposed an expansion to the original building. This petition was accepted.
In 1969 the expanded Albert S. Cook Library opened, with space for 600,000 volumes and 600 students. This “expansion” is the five-floor building that today holds the Albert S. Cook Library collections, classrooms, study spaces, and offices.
A series of renovations took place between 2005 and 2006 that created more space for collaborative study, computer access, presentation practice rooms, a graduate reading room, and a Starbucks cafe in the lobby.
In 2009, Towson University merged with the Baltimore Hebrew Institute (BHI). The Albert S. Cook Library took custody of the BHI collections, which currently reside on the second floor. At the same time the Special Collections and University Archives underwent extensive renovation, including the creation of a reading room, student workstations, and climate-controlled special collections area to care for rare and fragile BHI materials.
In addition to library departments for Access Services, Research, Instruction, Content Management, Outreach, Administration, and Special Collections and Archives, the library also hosts space for the Office of Information Technology (OIT), the Faculty Academic Center of Excellence at Towson (FACET), and the Tutoring and Learning Center (TLC).
In Spring 2022 the Cook Library began renovations on its main floor to support its transition into an “Academic Commons” where students can access multiple resources for academic support and wellbeing. The Commons will hold office space for the campus Writing Center, academic advising, tutoring, research, and more. The Commons is scheduled to open in Winter 2023.
written by Allison Fischbach, archives associate, Spring 2022.
View photos and learn more by exploring the History of Albert S. Cook Library timeline, created by Special Collections intern Christa Manning in Spring 2022.