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History of J. Murrey Atkins

1940s-1960
 
In 1946, the Charlotte Center of The University of North Carolina was founded.  Initially offering classes in the evenings to returning war veterans, its library shared its facilities, book collection and staff with Central High School, its host institution.  The site of Central High School is now the location of Central Piedmont Community College.
 
By the time Charlotte College was accredited as a two-year junior college by the Southern Association of Colleges and Secondary Schools in December 1957, it had begun a daytime program and hired its first full-time librarian Mozelle S. Scherger, though it still shared its facilities with Central High School.  Plans for expansion of the junior college into a four-year college required that the library work to expand its collections and staffing to meet the minimum basic requirements for an academic library.  Plans were made to find a new location for the College that would accommodate its growing needs.
 
While the initial collection was just a handful of books, the Charlotte College library kept a record of its purchases and acquisitions through what is known as an Accession Book.  As titles were purchased and received by library staff, each was recorded in this book in the order it was received.  Thanks to those records, we know that the first volume acquired by the Library was Preface to Philosophy: Book of Readings, by Ross Earle Hoople, Raymond Frank Piper and William Pearson Tolley. New York: Macmillan, 1946.
 
1960s-1970
  
When the University, then known as Charlotte College, moved to this campus in 1961, the Library was housed in the W.J. Kennedy Building with a collection of approximately 17,000 volumes.  Two years later, Charlotte College became a four-year, state-supported institution, and the midpoint of the campus had moved westward.  A new centrally located building solely dedicated to housing the Library was opened, and just a year later in 1964, James D. Ramer was appointed Head Librarian.
 
On April 11, 1965, the library was named in memory of J. Murrey Atkins, the first chairman of the college's Board of Trustees and a visionary, who, along with founder Bonnie Cone, anticipated the rising public demand for an institution of higher learning in this metropolitan area.  Although Atkins' dream for Charlotte College would not be fulfilled until after his death, the Library that bears his name was host to the event that finalized that coveted accomplishment of achieving University status.
 
In July 1965, state and local officials, including Governor Dan Moore and Charlotte College trustees, met in the Atkins Library to sign papers conveying Charlotte College to the University of North Carolina.  After those signings, Governor Moore walked out of the Library Building and rang the Old Bell in celebration. 
 
Enrollment at UNC Charlotte accelerated, and in 1967, the campus petitioned for state support to expand the Library.  By 1971, that support yielded an expansion of the Atkins Building and a 10-story tower named for Harry Lee Dalton, a Charlotte business leader, University patron, and book collector, whose gifts had enriched the Library's holdings and helped establish Special Collections.  However, before that tower was completed, the library reached a major collections milestone.
 
 
1970s-1990
 
In 1969, the Atkins Library acquired its 100,000th volume.  Donated by Mrs. Mary Myers Dwelle, the Atkins Library's 100,000th volume was The Historie of the World : in Five Bookes by Sir Walter Raleigh, printed in 1628.  The celebration was held in the Atkins Library and was attended by such dignitaries such as Ms. Bonnie Cone, Harry Golden, and Dean Colvard.

Meanwhile, construction on the Dalton Tower had begun and the space it would provide was sorely needed.  When Charlotte College became part of the UNC system, the library had nearly reached its capacity and the Dalton Tower increased collections space significantly.  When those new facilities were completed in 1971, the Library's holdings amounted to a little over 100,000 volumes and UNC Charlotte's enrollment totaled fewer than 5,000 students. 
Over the next 22 years, the Library's collection grew to more than a half million volumes and the student population swelled to 15,000.  The Atkins Library reached its next collections milestone in 1991 with the acquisition of its 500,000th volume, Moby Dick, by Herman Melville.  The donation, made by Mary and Harry L. Dalton was a rare first American Edition of the work and marked how far the Atkins Library had come in a short period of time.  In the 30 years from when the Library was first housed on campus, its collection had grown tenfold and had a robust, dedicated facility to providing library services


The Millionth Volume
 
"Because of his wide-ranging contributions to poetry, criticism, prose, and drama, some critics consider Thomas Sterns Eliot one of the most influential writers of the twentieth century. The Waste Land can arguably be cited as his most influential work. When Eliot published this complex poem in 1922--first in his own literary magazine Criterion, then a month later in wider circulation in the Dial--it set off a critical firestorm in the literary world. The work is commonly regarded as one of the seminal works of modernist literature. Indeed, when many critics saw the poem for the first time, it seemed too modern. In the place of a traditional work, with unified themes and a coherent structure, Eliot produced a poem that seemed to incorporate many unrelated, little-known references to history, religion, mythology, and other disciplines. He even wrote parts of the poem in foreign languages, such as Hindu. In fact the poem was so complex that Eliot felt the need to include extensive notes identifying the sources to which he was alluding, a highly unusual move for a poet.

Yet, while the poem is obscure, critics have identified several sources that inspired its creation and which have helped determine its meaning. Many see the poem as a reflection of Eliot's disillusionment with the moral decay of post-World War I Europe. In the work, this sense of disillusionment manifests itself symbolically through a type of Holy Grail legend. The 1922 version of The Waste Land was also significantly influenced by Eliot's first wife Vivien and by his friend Ezra Pound, who helped Eliot edit the original 800-line draft down to the published 433 lines."
--Poquette, Ryan, "The Waste Land," in Poetry for Students, Vol.20, Gale, 2005.

The Atkins Library's copy of T.S. Eliot's The Waste Land is a first edition, first pressing of the 1922 volume.  The work was donated by Dr. Julian and Elsie Mason from their personal collection.

The edition is numbered 22 of 1000 and has an unidentified signature in the verso page.

Some identifying features of this volume that mark it as the first edition, first pressing of the volume are the stamped number 22 on the publisher page.  An early number along with the stamp indicate a first pressing.  In addition, the letter 'a' in mountain on page 41 was lighter or completely missing on the first pressing.  The Atkins Library's copy has both of these features.
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