Date Event(s)
1855 In November, approximately 50 books arrive from New York sent by Amos Dean, president of the University. They are stored in a room in the Mechanics’ Academy.
1859 The library is relocated to Central Hall (Old Capitol).
1881 Ada North, the library’s first professional librarian, introduces the card catalog and in 1886 institutes use of the Dewey Decimal classification system.
1882 The library moves to the second floor of North Hall.
1884 The library is designated a U.S. Federal Depository Library.
1897 A major fire damages North Hall and destroys much of the collection.
1902 The library moves to the Hall of Liberal Arts (Schaeffer Hall) .
1908 The library moves again, this time to the Hall of Natural History (Macbride Hall).  Over the next 43 years, the general collection grows from 64,286 volumes to more than 600,000.
1927 The Library Annex is opened in the Old Armory (formerly the Men’s Gymnasium) to house the Reserve Reading Room, Serials Department, and Government Documents.
1937 The Art Library is established in the new Fine Arts Building.
1949 Construction begins on the first separate library building in the University’s history.
1950 Library of Congress call numbers are instituted to replace the Dewey Decimal classification system.
1951 The new building opens with 137,500 square feet of space.
1961 The first addition to the new building is completed and then extended in 1965.
1964 The Friends of the University of Iowa Libraries is organized. An earlier attempt to establish a Friends group had failed in 1944.
1971 The Music Library moves into the School of Music building and, in 1980, is renamed in honor of Dr. Rita Benton.
1972 The last major addition to the Main Library is completed, more than doubling its size to 440,000 square feet.
1974 The Health Sciences Library is completed, allowing the medicine, dentistry, pharmacy, speech pathology and audiology, and nursing collections to finally be combined in one building. In 1989 the library is renamed in honor of Dr. Robert C. Hardin.
1977 Acquisition of the 2 millionth volume
1979 Automation is introduced when the Libraries joins the Research Libraries Group (RLG) for cataloging support.
1988 OASIS, the on-line catalog of library holdings, is implemented.
1989 Acquisition of the 3 millionth volume
1992 The Information Arcade, a facility for using electronic information and multimedia, is created with a grant from the Roy J. Carver Charitable Trust.
1992 The Louise Noun-Mary Louise Smith Iowa Women’s Archives is established to collect and preserve the history of Iowa’s women.
1994 The Business Library moves to new quarters in the Pappajohn Business Building.  In 1997 it is renamed in honor of Marvin A. Pomerantz.
1996 Based on the success of the Information Arcade, the Information Commons opens in the Hardin Library for the Health Sciences and is expanded in 1999.
1999 The Biological Sciences Library moves to the renovated Biology Annex building.
2000 The web-based on-line catalog InfoHawk replaces OASIS.
2001 The Engineering Library moves into new facilities in the Seamans Center for the Engineering Arts and Sciences.
2005 The Libraries celebrates its sesquicentennial
2008 A major flood affected more than 2.5 million square feet of building space (the equivalent of one-sixth of the UI campus), forced the evacuation and closing of 20 buildings, and resulted in $743 million in damage and recovery costs.  The Art and Music libraries were located.  The Art Library reopened in January of 2012 and the Music Library in August 2016. The flood also precipitated the closing of 4 branch libraries due to various factors.  The Math, Geosciences, Physics, and Psychology libraries closed between 2009 and 2010 and the collections and services consolidated at various other libraries.
2012 The Libraries first crowdsourcing effort, the Civil War Diaries Transcription Project (later renamed DIY History in 2012) is launched.
2012 Iowa Research Online, the institutional repository, reaches 1,000,000 downloads.
2013 The award-winning Learning Commons opens.  The Learning Commons is a major upgrade to the Main Library and was the result of collaboration between the Libraries, ITS, and the Office of the Provost. The first floor space is designed for flexibility and interaction and includes a 45-seat TILE classroom; a consolidated service desk where staff can field academic, research, and technology questions, and a new entrance off Madison Street.
2014 The Libraries begins its participation in the Big Ten Academic Alliance‘s Shared Print Repository by sending journals to Indiana.
2015 Digital Studio for Public Arts and Humanities, which opened in the Main Library in 2001, merges with the Libraries’ Digital Research and Publishing unit to become the Digital Scholarship and Publishing Studio.
2016 A high-density collections annex is opened, with close to 5 million volumes capacity.
2016 Rita Benton Music Library moves into new facilities in the Voxman Music Building.