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Oscar A. Silverman Undergraduate Library records

 Collection — Multiple Containers
Identifier: 13-19-1213

Scope and Contents

Collection contains memos, reports, correspondence, clippings, photographs, bibliographic guides and instructional materials, and student comment cards, documenting the origins and activities of the Oscar A. Silverman Undergraduate Library at the University at Buffalo, State University of New York.


  • 1971-2006


Language of Materials

Collection material in English.

Terms of Access

The Oscar A. Silverman Undergraduate Library Records, 1971-2006 are open for research.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the University Archives before publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Historical Note

The special library for undergraduates, known as the UGL, at the State University of New York at Buffalo spanned from opening day in December 1973 into the first decade of the 21st century.


The seed for the concept of a library for undergraduate students was planted in a Middle States Evaluation report from 1957 and also by Professor Keyes Metcalf of Harvard who was hired as a consultant to survey the library in 1956.
Surge in national interest in undergraduate libraries.
June 1971
Plan for the new Amherst campus included not one, but two undergraduate libraries, on in Capen Hall with 114,000 volumes and another of 60-80,000 volumes for the Residential Colleges in Ellicott.
Fall 1971
Professor Larry Schneider of the History Department made a speech at a Faculty Senate meeting, expressing strong complaints about the libraries, especially the Reserve system.
Professor William Allen led the History Department in developing a plan.
April 1972
Faculty Senate Committee on Information and Library Resources submitted report to the Faculty Senate recommending an undergraduate library based on the Stanford model.
May 19, 1972
Faculty Senate passed a resolution supporting the establishment of an undergraduate library on the Main Street Campus which would become the nucleus of a full-service UGL on the Amherst Campus.
September 1972
Norma Segal appointed UGL Bibliographer.
January 1, 1973
Yoram Szekely appointed UGL Director.
December 3, 1973
UGL opened as a study hall in Diefendorf Annex.
January 16, 1974
UGL opened as a full service library in Diefendorf Annex with a staff of nine: Yoram Szekely, Norma Segal, Mary Jane Platou, Ann Clarke, Susanne Kahle, Lorraine Convey, Michelle Shanahan Chasse, Gretchen Engler, and Judy Schleicher.
September 1974
Satellite library, Nathan Kelsey Hall Library, opened in the Ellicott Complex on the Amherst Campus to meet the needs of the undergraduate Colleges until the UGL permanently moved to Capen Hall on the Amherst Campus. Robert Migneault appointed Ellicott Librarian.
June 1978
UGL moved from Diefendorf Annex to Capen Hall on the Amherst Campus.
Nathan Hall Library closed in Ellicott and merged into UGL.
September 1978
Yoram Szekely resigned as Director.
October 1979
William Prince appointed Director.
Fall 1980
First Library Skills Workbook created as part of the College Skills Program.
August 1981
William Prince resigned as Director.
May to November 1982
Charles Popovich appointed Director.
February 1983
Wilma Cipolla appointed Director.
September 24, 1983
Following the University Council's approval on October 22, 1982, the Oscar A. Silverman Undergraduate Library and the Ruth Bartholomew Conference Room were dedicated in a ceremony in Capen Hall.
January 1984
10th Birthday Celebration
August 1991
Wilma Cipolla retired as Director.
February 1992
UGL Review Task Force Report supported the continuation of UGL as a distinct administrative and operational entity.
May 1992
Margaret Wells appointed Director.
January 1993
UGL, Science and Engineering Library, and Lockwood Memorial Library directors reassigned to report to Associate Director.
Fall 1997
UGL Circulation/Reserve services merged in a larger Access Services for UGL, Science and Engineering, and Lockwood Libraries.
UGL, Science and Engineering, and Lockwood Libraries merged into the Arts and Sciences Libraries with functional directors for collections, public, and access services. Consolidation of services and collections eventually lead to the end of a named Undergraduate Library.
Fall 2010
Oscar A. Silverman Undergraduate Library became the Oscar A. Silverman Library housing the cybraries, microform and multimedia collections, and the Science and Engineering collections.

Oscar A. Silverman

Oscar Ansell Silverman was associated with the University at Buffalo in various roles from 1926 to his retirement in 1972. He began as an instructor in English, became a full professor in 1943, and between 1945 and 1946 served as a professor of English at the Army's American University in Biarritz, France. He returned to Buffalo and chaired the Department of English from 1956-1963, during which he served as a visiting professor at Harvard under a grant from the Carnegie Corporation from 1953 to 1954.
In 1960 he was named director of Libraries and served until 1968. Silverman played a key role in the acquisition of the important James Joyce and Robert Graves material. During his time as director of Libraries, the collection grew from 375,000 volumes in 1960 to one million in 1968.
A native of Uniontown, PA, Silverman received his bachelor's (1925) and Ph.D. (1941) from Yale University and a master's from the University of Wisconsin (1926). He edited speeches and papers on education given by the late Samuel P. Capen, former University Chancellor, published in 1953 as Management of Universities, and was an early proponent of a general education program for university students.
Active and well-known in the community, he expanded the Great Books Program of the Buffalo Public Library. During the 1940s, he conducted a weekly book review program on a local radio station, and later, he was host of a television current affairs program, WBEN-TV's “What's News.” He was a member of several of Buffalo's musical and art societies and is credited with facilitating an anonymous donation to establish the Budapest Quartet in residence at UB during the 1960s.
The UB College of Arts and Sciences honored Silverman in 1964 by for "distinguished... accomplishment in the humanities." He retired from UB in 1973 and a year later was named professor emeritus. He died in 1977.

Ruth Bartholomew

Born in Buffalo, New York, Ruth Bartholomew (1899-1969) was the first professional librarian at the University of Buffalo. A native of Buffalo, she was a graduate of Hutchinson Central High School. At Oberlin College, she studied music and library science. In 1921 she began her career at the Buffalo Public Library on Lafayette Square.

Ms. Bartholomew served as University Librarian (the head of the "main library" of the University; the Schools of Medicine and Law maintained separate departmental libraries) from 1922 to 1934. She began as head of the fledgling arts and sciences library in Townsend Hall on Niagara Square, then organized the General Collection in Foster Hall when that building opened on the Main Street Campus shortly after. Under her leadership, the collection grew to approximately 85,000 volumes in 13 years.

In 1934, Charles D. Abbott was appointed to the newly created post of Director of Libraries and Ruth Bartholomew became Associate Librarian. After an Assistant Director was appointed in the 1950's she became chiefly responsible for overseeing gifts and exchange, personnel, and the bindery. In 1935 she supervised the move into the original E.B. Green-designed Lockwood Memorial Library, now the Health Sciences Library. She was a member of the American Library Association and a delegate to its national meetings. She also helped organize a library service group, the Friends of Lockwood Library.

Ms. Bartholomew, also an accomplished pianist, retired in 1964. She died on August 1, 1969.

Description taken from brochure commemorating the naming of the Oscar A. Silverman Undergraduate Library. See Box/Folder 2.2. See also 13/3/83 Ruth Bartholomew Papers, 1922-1963.


6.67 Linear Feet (6 manuscript boxes, 1 legal manuscript box, 3 cartons)


Collection contains records documenting the origins and history of the Undergraduate Library at the State University of New York at Buffalo.


This collection is arranged in three series:

  1. History
  2. Oscar A Silverman Undergraduate Library and Ruth Bartholomew Conference Room Dedication
  3. Miscellaneous Records

Acquisition Information

Collection received from various Library personnel circa 2003 and in February 2011.

Accruals and Additions

No further accruals are expected to this collection.

Related Resources

  1. Record Group 13, University Libraries Records
  2. 13/1/823, University Libraries Strategic Planning Process Records, 2001-2008
  3. 13/1/1091, Annual Student Poetry Context Records, 2003-2008
  4. 13/2/99, Oscar A. Silverman Papers, 1956-1970
  5. 13/2/1201, Charles D. Abbott Papers, 1919-1979
  6. 13/3/83, Ruth Bartholomew Papers, 1922-1963
  7. 13/11/693, Silverman UGL Dedication Photograph Exhibit,1983

Processing Information

Processed by Karen Spencer, February 2011. Former collection 13/19/908 was merged with this collection.

Finding Aid for the Oscar A. Silverman Undergraduate Library records
Finding aid prepared by Karen Spencer.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University Archives Repository

420 Capen Hall
Buffalo New York 14260-1674 US
716-645-3714 (Fax)