February 1961

Louis Kaplan, Director of the General Library System, opened an undergraduate reading collection in a reading room in Memorial Library and made Dorothy Schultz its first director.

January 1964

The University of Wisconsin Libraries determines that because of the heavy use and growing collection of the Undergraduate Collection a separate library building is needed to serve the undergraduate population.

April 1964

The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents approves the money to construct a new library.

January 1965

A suggestion is made to name the new undergraduate library “College Library.”

March 1965


The University of Wisconsin Board of Regents decides that the location for College Library will be at 600 North Park, the location of the Psychology Building and Journalism Hall, across the street from Memorial Union.

October 1965

The University of Wisconsin announces the plans for the new library and predicts that the building will be completed and opened in the fall of 1968.

January 1966

Dorothy Schultz, the current head of the Undergraduate Collection is appointed the Chief Librarian of the Undergraduate Library.

April 1966

The architectural firm of Fitzhugh and Scott is selected to design College Library. Gordon Pierce is named the building’s chief architect.

September 1966

The new undergraduate library is officially named “College Library.”

April 1967

The Board of Regents approves the initial library plans with a projected opening date of 1969.

May 1967

The University’s proposed overpass across Observatory Drive becomes a budgetary and design issue that holds up the planning process. The proposal included an overpass walkway from Bascom Hill over Observatory Drive and onto the building’s plaza as well as an underground tunnel from the library to the Memorial Union.

December 1968

The Board of Regents rewards the construction contract to Orville Madsen and Sons of Minneapolis.

June 1968


Construction begins on the building.

June 1970

The building is named after Helen Constance White, a former English department faculty member (1936-1965) and department Chair (1955-1958, 1961-1965).

September 1971

College Library opens its doors with the Reserve Room opening for circulation on September 7th and the rest of the collection being made available on September 13th. The first floor housed the information/circulation desk, reserve book collection, student lounge, and a large study hall. The second floor was home to the reference area (with two professional staff members, a collection of reference books, and the card catalog.), one study hall with current magazines and another study hall including the journal collection and a portion of the book collection. The third floor maintained the rest of the book collection, a circulation desk, and the recreational reading collection. The collection includes over 38,600 books and 6,000 journals.

Fall 1972

The John M. Gaus Collection in Poetry and Literary Studies is added to College Library.

January 1973

An Orientation Committee is appointed to develop a program for College Library that provides tours, and instructional leaflets.

June 1973

College Library opens the Tape Center as a center that allows patrons to play tapes on request to over 350 listening stations throughout the library.

September 1974

The Silver Buckle Press, a working collection of unique printing equipment is housed in College Library.

Fall 1974

College Library begins offering library instruction classes and the staff begin creating “roadmap” guides illustrating research strategies on popular topics.

Summer 1975

College Library librarians begin working with the newly developed Women’s Studies Program faculty to create a Women’s Reading Area covering all aspects of women’s lives. The collection opens for service on the third floor featuring feminist magazines, vertical file of pamphlet and newspaper clippings, as well a popular paperback book collection.

Fall 1976

Greater University Tutoring Service (G.U.T.S.) opened a free evening tutoring service in College Library.

January 1976

The College Library Ethnic Studies Collection opens its doors. The collection began in 1975 as a cooperative effort between the Dean of Students, the Multi-cultural Council, and the library. It had as its goal the creation of a collection that supports topics of interest to African Americans, Native Americans, Asian Americans, and Chicanos/Latinos.

Fall 1977

The collection increases to over 99,000 books and a regular evaluation process begins to keep the collection as a high use collection focusing on subject areas of interest to undergraduates.

Spring 1978

Two study rooms begin housing equipment for patrons with disabilities.

Fall 1978

Typewriters and calculators are installed in carrels on the first floor.

June 1980

Dorothy Schultz retires as the Director of College Library and Donna Senzig is named Acting Director.

Fall 1981

The third floor entrance area is remodeled to house the computers needed to run the new computerized library catalog. The exit/entrance turnstiles are removed and the door sealed closed. The reference area is also remodeled to make room for the addition of online library catalog computers.

August 1983

College Library became the University’s demonstration site for the NLS online library catalog and circulation system.

Fall 1983

Smoking eliminated on the second and third floors of the building but was still allowed in the student lounge.

Winter 1983

A plan is established to begin renovating and refurbishing the interior of the library.

Spring 1984

A proposal is submitted by College Library to request computers for student use in the library.

April 1984

Donna Senzig is named Director College Library.

Fall 1984

A new reference/information desk is constructed on the first floor.

May 1986

The card catalog at College Library is discontinued.

Spring 1986

The once popular Tape Center ends its operations as a result of changing technologies.

Summer 1986

The University closes the library for asbestos removal.

Fall 1988

The library began providing late night study hall from midnight to 3am Sunday through Thursday.

Summer 1989

Remodeling began to create the Media and Microcomputer Center in Room 2250.

Fall 1989

The Ethnic Studies Collection is moved to a reading room on the first floor where the microcomputer center was previously housed.

January 1990

The College Library Media and Microcomputer Center opens its doors. It included 22 Macintosh computers and over 70 PCs.

Spring 1990

College Library is the first campus library to introduce a full-text journal database on CD-ROM.

Fall 1990

College Library becomes smoke-free.

Fall 1992

College Library is named the “Library of the Year” by the South Central Library System.

Spring 1993

College Library’s Career Collection is created at the request of the University of Wisconsin-Madison Career Counseling and Placement Council, providing career and placement information for undergraduate and graduate students.

Spring 1994

College Library users are surveyed about the library and its services

Fall 1994

As a result of the survey longer hours are provided by the reserves desk and a super-quiet study area is designated on the third floor. A new food and drink policy is instituted allowing cold food and beverages in all areas of the building without computers.

Fall 1995

College Library begins testing an electronic reserves system and students are able to explore the World Wide Web through computers in the Multimedia Center (MMC), which had also developed its own website.

Winter 1995

The College Library Home Page is launched to assist students in using the campus “Electronic Library.”

May 1995

The New Media Center is officially opened in College Library to provide staff, faculty, and students with the access to state-of-the-art technologies for creating multimedia curricular materials.

Fall 1995

A new library instruction room is added to the first floor.

Fall 1996

Development continues on the College Library Web site. The site begins including information regarding library services, research guides, and links to recommended resources.

Summer 1997

The College Library Media and Microcomputer Center is remodeled and opens in the fall as the Computer and Media Center with 191 new computer work stations.

Fall 1997

College Library creates an Undergraduate Gateway collection of electronic texts with 24-hour access through the Internet and implements an Electronic Reserves program.

Fall 1998

Undergraduate Gateway collection of online texts becomes the Undergraduate Core List of journal databases on the University of Wisconsin-Madison Library Web site.

Fall 2000

Library begins to undergo a series of renovations and refurbishments, including re-upholstering of furniture, new light fixtures, new carpeting, and various other upgrades.

Fall 2001

College Library begins providing live online reference assistance.

March 2003

Open Book Café opens as a joint project with the Memorial Union to create a place for students to congregate, to study  and to relax in a room overlooking Lake Mendota. Computers, coffee, and the recreational collection all make their home in Room 1250.

June 2003

Donna Senzig retires as Director of College Library and Linda Balsinger is named Acting Director.

Fall 2003

A system is implemented to allow students to access their electronic reserves through their My UW web portals.

September 2003

College Library implements a pilot program, opening the library 24 hours a day 5 days a week.

October 2003

Carrie Kruse is named Director of College Library.

Spring 2004

The 24/5 program is declared a success and is formally instituted for the school year.

December 2007

Library staff strive to mitigate finals stress with free candy, stress relievers, and a visit from Bucky Badger. The event proves so popular that it establishes a tradition which continues to this day.

April 2008

The first Library Research Awards are presented at the Undergraduate Symposium.

Summer 2009

The first floor of College Library is remodeled to include a single service desk for reference and circulation. The Student Services Area is also established, along with the library’s “living room.”

September 2009

College Library hosts its first Helen C. House Party as an official Wisconsin Welcome event with carnival games and free food enjoyed by over 1,000 attendees.

Summer 2011

Collections shift throughout the library. Magazines and music CDs are incorporated into the Open Book Collection, Room 1250. The Gender & Women’s Collection moves to Room 2191 and all of the Main Collection is shifted to the first floor, Room 1191.

September 2011

The Wisconsin Collaboratory for Enhanced Learning (WisCEL) opens in Room 3250.  In addition, the Media Studios and DesignLab are launched in the CMC, Room 2250.

November 2011

The “curtain wall” of the building’s façade is replaced and concrete restored around Helen C. White Hall.