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UMKC University Libraries

History of UMKC University Libraries


The library has had several homes on and off the university campus, and experienced a severe shortage of space for several decades before the General Library (now Miller Nichols) was built. Here, students study under crowded conditions in 1959.

Scofield Hall

The only building on campus when the university opened, Walter Dickey's former mansion was the first home of the University of Kansas City's library, where it resided along with all the other university departments, offices, and classrooms. The space was quickly outgrown, and a new library was built in 1936 using a $50,000 gift from William Volker. Dickey Mansion was later named Scofield Hall.

Newcomb Hall

This structure was built as a new library and opened in 1936. Later named Newcomb Hall, it housed the library operations for 30 years. By the 1940s the library had outgrown the space. Books and periodicals had to be stored in attics and basements of other buildings on campus. The collections were moved repeatedly and remained scattered around campus until 1966 when the former Federal Aviation Administration building was rented to bring the library collections together under one roof, albeit off campus.

Miller Nichols Library

The UM Board of Curators approved funding for a new library building in 1966. The new building opened in 1969 as a four story structure, with the first three floors completed. It was dedicated as the General Library in 1970. it remained uncompleted until a $1.5 million gift by Miller Nichols allowed it to be finished as the five-story building it was intended to be, and it was rededicated in 1991 as Miller Nichols Library.
An expansion and renovation project was undertaken beginning in 2008. In 2011 the addition of the robotic storage and retrieval system was completed, and the classroom addition phase began. All floors of the library were also renovated to repurpose the space for library services, technology, and study space for students.

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