The Georgia Southern University Libraries consists of three beautiful buildings located on two of the three Georgia Southern University campuses. Lane Library and the Learning Commons building are located on the beautiful Armstrong Campus in Savannah, GA. Zach S. Henderson Library is located on the expansive campus in Statesboro, GA.
In 2018, Armstrong State University and Georgia Southern University consolidated, creating an institution that retained the Georgia Southern University name. The Henderson Library on the Statesboro campus and the Lane Library and Learning Commons on the Armstrong campus became collectively known as Georgia Southern University Libraries. The consolidation joined 27 full-time faculty librarians and 48 support and technical staff.
Georgia Southern University Libraries continues to be a major academic resource for all campuses. Currently, the Libraries’ collections contain over 898,300 volumes of printed books and bound periodicals, and 91,000 physical media. In addition to the extensive physical collections, the Libraries also provide access to a growing number of electronic resources which includes over 656,500 electronic books, 104,700 electronic journals and related resources, 110,400 digital media, and 320 databases that contain indexes, abstracts, full-text articles, and digital images.
When Armstrong Junior College first opened its doors in 1935, the library occupied two rooms of the downtown Savannah building which had been given by the family of George F. Armstrong. Dorothy Horton Miller, the junior college’s first librarian, was tasked with overseeing the initial collection of 4,500 volumes.
In 1944 the library was moved to the nearby Lane Building which had been the gift of Mr. Mills B. Lane, a prominent Savannah-Atlanta Banker, philanthropist, and an early patron of the college. In 1949 the library was once again moved to nearby Hodgson Hall where its collection was inter-filed with that of the Georgia Historical Society which numbered 10,000 volumes, making a total of 16,000 volumes available to students and faculty of the college.
In 1966, after receiving four-year status and a 250-acre donation from The Mills B. Lane Foundation and Donald Livingston, Armstrong State College moved to Savannah’s southside. In its new and current location the library, once again, became the Lane library. By 1974 the library collection included 83,000 volumes, 750 periodicals, 2400 reels of microfilm, and 21,3000 microforms. During the 1975-1976 year the library building was greatly enlarged and a television studio added. In 1978, a Special Collections was further established with the dedication of the Florence Powell Minis Room. The collection contained material pertaining to the early history of Savannah, books by and about Savannah authors; and a collection of Armstrong College publications. The University Archives were further added in 2000.
In 2005-2006 the Lane Library building underwent a $5,000,000 renovation, expanding seating for 500 and housing two classrooms, including one state-of-the-art multimedia equipment classroom.
In 2010, planning for construction of a second library building on the campus began as a way to provide more seating and more types of spaces for students. The Memorial Union Annex building, once occupied by IT services and the bookstore, had a great location on the quad near the new student union and not far from Lane Library. The Learning Commons opened in the Summer of 2013 and became Armstrong’s first LEED Gold building.
Completed in 2013, the Learning Commons on the Armstrong Campus of Georgia Southern University in Savannah, GA, is a virtual library designed to allow for various types of interactive study. At 15,000 square feet it provides enough space for groups of two to up to thirty students to collaborate at a time. The Learning Commons received the LEED Gold certification for it’s environmentally friendly roof garden with rooftop solar photovoltaic panels which are designed to meet 20% of total energy demand. It has also received the 2013 Innovation Award for Design and Technology and the 2013 First Place Award in the Build Georgia Awards Program.
The Henderson Library is named after Dr. Zach Suddath Henderson (1902-1985) who was a star student and athlete in college and began his career in education as principal, coach and science teacher of Eastman High School. In June 1927, he was tapped as Dean of Georgia Normal School, a position he held until February 1948, when he became President of the College, then Georgia Teachers College. His presidency included the period in which the college was desegregated. He retired in July 1968, having served Georgia Southern for 41 years.
The First District Agricultural and Mechanical School library collection was initially housed in a small room in the campus’ main Administration Building and included over 2,000 bound volumes. By 1924, the same year the school was renamed Georgia Normal School, the library came to occupy the entire second floor of the building and included a single reading room, periodical room, two small conference rooms, and one office. In 1926, Frances Stubbs was employed as the first trained librarian and by 1929 the library’s collection had grown to include 5,000 cataloged volumes, daily newspapers, and sixty periodicals.
During a transitional period in which the college moved from a normal school to a four-year institution, curriculum changes made heavier demands on library resources. The Rosenwald Building was completed in 1938, at a cost of $65,000, and was the first building dedicated especially to library services. Named the Rosenwald Library because of a contribution from the Julius Rosenwald Fund, the building consisted of a main floor with a split level ground floor, with a capacity to accommodate 276 individuals and 54,280 volumes. The library further became a selective depository for United States Federal documents in 1939.
The library’s collection continued to increase steadily reaching the capacity of the physical facilities of the library. A 1962 self-study determined that if top-level library services were to meet the needs of increased enrollment and expanding academic programs, a new library building must be built. In 1972 construction began on a $4,000,000 library complex to meet the needs of the rapidly expanding campus. The 132,000 square foot building opened to Georgia Southern College students in Fall of 1975. In 1985 the building was named for Dr. Zach S. Henderson, who brought the institution from a teachers' college to the largest and most comprehensive senior college in the state.
In summer of 2004 a $22.75 million expansion and renovation project to further expand the facilities at the library began. The expansion was completed in August 2008 and added an additional 101,000 square feet to the library’s area.
Both the Statesboro and Armstrong campuses have a long history of leaders who did great things for the libraries, and starting in 2018 during the university consolidation, Bede Mitchell became the first dean of the combined Georgia Southern University Libraries. Here we honor all the head librarians and deans who have served over the years.