Instruction in engineering began as a part of the Mathematics Department, and it was not until 1873 that a separate chair of civil engineering was created. Though it is not known exactly when an engineering collection started, an “engineers library” is mentioned in a June 1877 issue of the Vidette-Reporter, where Prof. Philetus Philbrick, professor of civil engineering, reported receiving scientific texts and reference books. Continued references to the engineering library can be found in the March 1879 annual report where books are reported being added to the library; and in May 1892 “the engineering library has moved from its room in the science building, the space now being used by the department of botany.”
The fire in 1901 that destroyed South Hall also claimed 42 engineering volumes, though other volumes were spared because they were in a case that did not burn. In 1908 the library had been merged into the general library at Macbride, but the collection was moved once again to room 106N of the Applied Science Building in December of 1913. During this time, student assistants were in charge of the general operation of the library while under the supervision of a faculty member.
By 1927 the collection was located in Engineering Hall. In 1944 the Engineering Library was located in former classroom space on the third floor of the Engineering Building. At that time the Engineering Library was run by an individual who also administered the Engineering Placement Office. The first professional librarian arrived in 1962. The library was eventually relocated to the northeast corner of the first and second floors of the 1968 addition to the Engineering Building. During construction and remodeling of the renamed Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences, the library occupied the northwest corner of the second floor at the Main Library, and then in the fall of 2001 moved back into new facilities in the Seamans Center.