Booth’s name honors former librarian

Luke Taylor, Associate News Editor

Eastern’s Booth Library is named in honor of Miss Mary Josephine Booth, who was the head librarian from 1904 to 1945.

Miss Booth was mentioned often in the Normal School News and later the Teacher’s College News which each covered Eastern when it was still considered a “normal,” or teachers’, school.

At that time, the paper ran a “personal” column which gave updates on when and where random students had been doing things.

Booth was very active, whether she was finding resources for graduating students, travelling to librarian conferences or just visiting neighboring cities.

She did interrupt her work as a librarian for some time during World War I.

In 1917, she was issued a passport and moved to Paris, France, where she joined the Women’s Overseas Service League, the American Association of University Women and the Daughters of the American Revolution.

She also volunteered with the Red Cross and served on into 1918.

After the war, she returned home to Charleston and continued to work at the library.

Booth seemed to be a well-liked figure on campus and was frequently referenced in the newspaper as an attendee at dinner parties.

On January 12th, 1937, the Teacher’s College News referenced her love of cats in a brief feature story.

“’Card Cat-ologue’ Booth was seen last week to surreptitiously pick up a stray maltise [sic] cat which wandered in the library door and to carry it into her office for a few moment’s companionship,” the article said. “Librarians, knowing Miss Booth’s weakness for stray cats and curs, pay no attention to them when they wander into the library.”

Construction for Booth Library began on October 25th, 1948; Booth herself helped spread the mortar for the cornerstone. She also officially opened the doors two years later on May 27th, 1950.

The original library building was two stories tall with a partial third floor.

The ground floor included a music room, an art gallery, a lecture room, a lounge, soundproof listening rooms and a kitchen.

The second floor was home to reference and reserve reading rooms, the librarians office, a delivery room, a catalogue room and microfilm and typing rooms.

The stack room had enough space for 140,000 volumes, with plans to add two floors if necessary.

The library annex opened its doors in 1968; it added capacity for around 300,000 more volumes, as well as more seating for visitors.

The building was renovated in 1999, raising total volume capacity to over a million books.

The annex and original library building were also merged and the original façade was restored.


Luke Taylor can be reached at 581-2812 or [email protected].