Life Sciences Library exhibition celebrates 125th anniversary

March 22, 2013

An exhibition, "The Life Sciences Library at 125 years," is on display in the University Libraries' Sidewater Commons, 102 Pattee Library, now through June 21. In 1888, the library began as the Experiment Station Library on the second floor of Old Main, which at the time comprised the entirety of The Pennsylvania State College. The old gray stone structure sheltered almost everything except the farm animals. Viewers are invited to enjoy the old photographs and commentary about the evolution of this important Penn State resource.

The Morrill Act of 1862 established Penn State as Pennsylvania's land-grant college, and the subsequent Hatch Act of 1887 gave federal funds to these land-grant colleges to create a series of agricultural experiment stations—with a goal of improving farm production through research and the sharing of information. An important provision of the act required the experiment stations to publish research reports at least four times a year, to exchange these and make the findings available to the public. Thus each experiment station began to create a library.

Originating as a small experiment station library in 1888, Penn State's agricultural collections have evolved to their present comprehensive state embracing virtually all the life sciences, including biology, biochemistry, nutrition, nursing and public health. The long tradition as an agriculture library explains the large historical collections including major United States Department of Agriculture, Forest Service, and State Experiment Station publications.

As the library evolved, so did its name to include: 1888–1933, the Experiment Station Library; 1933–1968, the Agricultural Library; 1968–1974, the Agricultural and Biological Sciences Library; 1974 to present, the Life Sciences Library.

The exhibition is open during normal operating hours for Pattee and Paterno Library, available on the Web at or 814-865-3063.

For more information or if you anticipate needing accessibility accommodations or have questions about the physical access provided, please call Public Relations and Marketing at 814-863-4240, during normal business hours.

  • students in Agricultural Library 1933

    In 1933, the Agricultural Library opened with fanfare in its new quarters in Patterson Hall, the old creamery.

    IMAGE: Penn State
Last Updated March 25, 2013