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last updated: 2/8/2006

History of the Chemistry Library

History of the IUB Chemistry Library

By Gary Wiggins


The core collection of the original Chemistry Library was donated by Dr. Robert Edward Lyons around 1895. Most of those early works are still in the book collection with his book plates on them. From 1895-1931, the Chemistry Library was housed in a room in Wylie Hall. It was moved to the ground floor of the new Chemistry Building in the early 1930s. The library was extensively remodeled and enlarged around 1965, and the present quarters were occupied during the remodeling and expansion of the Chemistry Building in the early 1990s.


The Chemistry Library has long been an early adopter of new information technology. It was the first unit on campus to have a photocopy machine and the first to have a CD-ROM player. An innovative current awareness service based on the Chemical Abstracts tapes was offered for a number of years during the 1970s, initially through ARAC (the Aerospace Research Applications Center), then through the Chemical Information Center (CIC). Housed in the library, the CIC was the first unit on campus, and indeed in the entire state of Indiana, to offer online searching of remote databases through the Dialog and Orbit systems. Miriam Bonham, wife of Emeritus Professor Russell A. Bonham, was the expert searcher who initially provided the service. A complete microfilming unit was part of the CIC operations for many years, providing compact archival storage for laboratory notebooks and Molecular Structure Center reports.


In 1985, the Chemistry Library was one of the first in the world to offer the Chemical Abstracts Service Academic Program that permits low-cost searching of the CAS ONLINE files. For 10 years, this service was offered at no cost to the user. CAS ONLINE was replaced at IUB by SciFinder Scholar in the mid-1990s. Since July 2000, SciFinder Scholar has been available at all IU campuses 24 hours/day with full substructure searching. In combination with current subscriptions to all of the American Chemical Society journal Web editions and electronic versions of other chemistry journals (including backfiles of most of them), the SciFinder Scholar databases provide unparalleled access to the major primary and secondary sources in chemistry. Another resource that has been available to IU researchers at all campuses since its inception is the CrossFire system that includes both the Beilstein Handbook of Organic Chemistry and the Gmelin Handbook of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry. The Cambridge Structural Database is also provided by the Chemistry Library.


Librarians in the Chemistry Library

Chemistry Department secretaries oversaw the collection until the first librarian was hired in 1941. Since that date, there have been 12 heads of the Chemistry Library. Three of those served ten years or more.


Heads of the Library


Mary Olive Ballou


Ruby L. Reavis


Norma J. Johnson


Jewell Maurice


Carl H. Kretzschmar


Albrecht M. Kronenberger


Charles C. Waddington


Frances Zamnik


Victor Basile


John M. Knego


Gary D. Wiggins


Roger Beckman (Interim Head, half-time)


Roger Beckman (half-time)


Full-time assistant heads of the Chemistry Library were employed since 1974. In order of their service they were: Margaret (Green) Ryken, Leonard A. Neubert, Miriam Dye Bonham, JoAnn Keys, and Roger Beckman. After 1998, a reorganization of the science libraries at IUB eliminated the position of assistant head. Roger Beckman became the head of the Life Sciences Library in 1999 and was given the additional duty of head of the Chemistry Library in 2004.  Brian Winterman was hired as the Assistant Librarian in September 2004.


The success of the Chemistry Library in providing high-quality service to the faculty and students at IU and the citizens of the state of Indiana over the years is due to the dedication of the librarians and staff. The reputation of the IU Chemistry Library has spread far beyond the borders of Indiana and even those of the United States. It is a great tribute to the staff of the Chemistry Library that this is so.


Gary Wiggins

August 29, 2003

Updated by Brian Winterman: December 10, 2004
   and Roger Beckman February 8, 2006

last updated: 2/8/2006