From 1939, when President Albert Jorgensen carried the first load of books to its stacks, until 1978, when the current Homer Babbidge Library opened, the Wilbur Cross building was the academic heart of the University of Connecticut.
The first building at the University specifically built as a library, Wilbur Cross – named for Connecticut’s Depression-era governor – boasted seven floors of stacks, oak-paneled reading rooms, and air conditioning, which almost no other campus buildings had at the time. During the course of its time as a library, the building saw everything from visiting Hollywood stars to a 1974 occupation by African-American students advocating for change.
Last month, after restoration, the South Reading Room reopened to students, extending a link that stretches back nearly 80 years.
In this excerpt from the Oct. 3 edition of UConn 360, Tom Breen, Julie Bartucca, and Ken Best talk about the Wilbur Cross Building’s days as a library, and the makeshift libraries on campus that came before it.
For more podcasts about all things UConn, go to uconn.edu/uconn360-podcast.