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Gordon B. Olson Library

History of the Library


Gordon B. Olson
President, MSU
1967 - 1992

Extremely modest is the only way to describe Minot State Normal School's first library of 1913. Housed in the balcony of the former Minot Armory (now the Minot School District offices), the library consisted of some 300 volumes. The books were a gift of geography instructor Miss Huldah Winsted. Apparently owing to her largesse, Miss Winsted, in addition to her teaching duties, was appointed the college's first librarian.

In 1914, with the campus construction complete, the small library was moved to the second floor of Old Main in the northeast corner. As described in a school catalog from June of that year, the library was "sufficiently large to accommodate a school enrollment of two or three hundred as a study and reading room."

The library was moved again in 1924 to the new west wing of Old Main. Located on the third floor, it was designed to serve an enrollment of 400. The growth of the library's book, journal, and document collections kept pace with student enrollment.

By 1939 there were 800 students at Minot State Teachers College and the library held 25,000 books, 275 periodical titles, and numerous state and federal documents. There was a critical shortage of space.

For the next 18 years college officials campaigned for a new and separate library building. In 1957 the state authorized construction of a new library. Christened Memorial Library, the 33,000 square foot building was expected to serve Minot State's needs for decades. However, in eight years the "knowledge explosion" of the 1960s, coupled with a significant jump in enrollment, quickly overran the library's services capacity. In 1969 another campaign for a new building began.

The Gordon B. Olson Library
This new building was not authorized until 1990. Completed the spring of 1992, the Gordon B. Olson Library presently serves an enrollment of more than 3,000 students. The three story facility features seating for 800 students, room for more than 500,000 volumes, as well as computer labs, and a microforms area. It is a facility that serves Minot State University well in the 21st century.

Dr. Gordon B. Olson came to Minot State University during the summer of 1967 and led the university through a period of growth and change. In 1967 enrollment was slightly more than 2,000.

During Dr. Olson's tenure, MSU added a significant number of undergraduate and graduate programs. New undergraduate degrees included nursing, social work, and criminal justice. Graduate programs expanded from only one program in 1967 to 13 programs this year. Each of these programs addresses societal needs and the needs of students who pursue careers in these fields.

Dr. Olson spearheaded efforts to obtain new construction on campus, and during his tenure, the outward appearance of the campus changed dramatically.