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Langsdale Library

Langsdale's History


Langsdale's History | Mr.Langsdale


The University of Baltimore was organized in 1925 with a School of Law and a College of Business Administration. Plans for the library outran the budget and growth was slow. Mrs. Mary Fagin became the full-time librarian in 1929 when the University moved to the former home of the Baltimore College of Dental Surgery at 847 North Howard Street. The entire fourth floor was devoted to the library, which expanded to 8000 volumes by 1940 and began overflowing.

A second library was established in 1947 to serve the College of Business, Industry and Management and the Junior College in the building at 1420 North Charles Street, formerly occupied by the Baltimore Athletic Club. This library had 17,000 volumes and 200 periodicals. The Law Library remained on Howard Street, with a law librarian in charge. It had 11,000 volumes.

Both libraries combined in 1961 and moved into the building next to Charles Hall (which is now referred to as the Charles Hall Annex). The library occupied the second floor and accommodated 100 readers and 40,000 volumes.

On Wednesday, April 7, 1965, ground was broken for the new Library of the University of Baltimore at the corner of Maryland Avenue and Oliver Street. The new building has four floors and a basement. Over 50,000 square feet of floor space is able to house 125,000 books and 600 students can be seated at one time. On the fourth floor was the Law Library. It had its own Circulation Desk, Reference Department, reading and stack areas, and study rooms for Practice Court preparation. This new building was named for R. Loran Langsdale who died in 1967, a year after the building was completed. The building was named after him in recognition of over forty years of dedication to the University he helped to create.

gallery space in theater, from the 1970's

In 1973, the Library became a selective Federal Depository, receiving approximately 25% of the total number of Federal Government Documents made available through the Depository program each year. In 1984, the Langsdale Library became a partial Maryland State Depository. We are currently one of 15 state depositories in the state of Maryland, and one of two in the City of Baltimore.The archival collections that the library contains increased dramatically in 1974 when the Steamship Historical Society of America Collection moved into the building. The collection includes 17,000 bound volumes, long runs of periodicals and journals relating to steam transport, thousands of photographs and films, thousands of brochures relating to steamship cruises and charter voyages, and a large number of engineering drawings of vessels, especially those built in the Chesapeake Bay region. In sum, it is one of the two or three largest maritime collections along the East Coast and probably in the United States. BRISC (Baltimore Regional Institutional Studies Center) was orginally intended to be a research think tank for urban planning. Facilities to house records originating in or collected by agencies and associations in the local metropolitan region were planned to be located in Howard Hall, a short walking distance from the University's central campus buildings. Later all of the documents received through BRISC were added to the library's Special Collections.


Langsdale Library, exterior 1970'sThe library participated in a series of studies with a view to entering a cooperative automated circulation system involving the libraries of Towson State University, Morgan State University, Coppin State College, Bowie State College, and the University of Baltimore. With that thinking in mind, Langsdale became a member of OCLC in the late 1970's, which enabled some cooperative cataloging and access to catalog information from libraries across the country.

In the Fall of 1975, the University of Baltimore created an Audio-Visual Technician position to support the instructional staff. The objectives of this Department (Learning Resource Center) were to provide the necessary expertise and support for educators to benefit from a variety of instructional media and to establish a media library. In the Fall of 1981, the name of this department (Learning Resource Center) was changed (Instructional Technology Center) to reflect a greater emphasis on the design and development of curricular materials utilizing mediated techniques. During the summer of 1982, the Center consolidated its operation into one central location.

Something EXCITING happened on March 30, 1980. On that day, a security guard set fire to a box of books in the basement of the library. The security guard was hired by a private contractor to work at the library. He set the fire because he was hoping to impress his employer by leading students from the smoky library. He felt that if he did something heroic, he would get promoted. When the fire department arrived, three students were still inside the building and were led to safety by fire fighters. The fire, which burned walls, ceiling, office machines, books and valuable manuscripts in a basement storage room and spread smoke damage throughout the building, cost an estimated $150,000. Many of the damaged manuscripts and rare documents were saved at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory. The documents were placed in a test chamber and subjected to low pressure. In 48-hour cycles, the documents were dried and returned to the condition they were in prior to the fire. In the end Mr. Harris was sentenced to 5 years in jail on arson charges. After cleanup from the fire, the library evenutally returned to normal operations.

A man reading, in Langsdale, from the 1970'sThe Law Library moved from the building on 1420 Maryland Avenue to their new Law Center in 1982. Since that time, many changes have been made inside the Langsdale Library. The Special Collections Department, of which the Steamship Historical Society Collection is a large part, moved to the fourth floor. The Administrative Offices moved to the third floor. Sometime in the late-1980s the first floor entrance area underwent a complete renovation, adding new tables and comfortable seating areas. In August 1982, the library concluded a major program of reorganizing and moving its departments and collections. Changes were made between 1983-1986 placing periodicals in open stacks, rearranging the locations of library collections and departments, opening more area for student use. The largest, and on-going, change has been the introduction of technology to the library. In the 1980s and 1990s, Langsdale had computerized databases on CD- Rom, an online catalog that links us to other libraries in the state, satellite telecommunications with remote campus classrooms, and access to the Internet in the library offices. Langsdale now has multiple computer labs, wireless internet, virtual reference services, and laptops for checkout.




  • Library Fire: Newspaper Clipping: May 14, 1980-September 23, 1980, Series XIII, Box #4, UB Collection, UBA, Langsdale Library
  • "Middle States Self-Evaluation Report 1977", Middle States Reports, 1977-1982, Series XIII, Box #5, University of Baltimore Collection (hereafter UB Collection), Archives at the University of Baltimore (hereafter UBA), Langsdale Library
  • "A Periodic Review Report, November 1, 1982", Middle States Reports, 1977-1982, Series XIII, Box #5, UB Collection, UBA, Langsdale Library
  • "The University of Baltimore Million and a Half Dollar Library Includes Auditorium and Separate Law Library", Langsdale Library Building Plans (1965-1967), Series XIII, Box #3, UB Collection, UBA, Langsdale Library
  • "History of the University of Baltimore Library" by Mary Fagin (1957), Series IX, Box #2, UB Collection, UBA, Langsdale Library