Celebrating Moody’s 50th Anniversary (From the 2018 ITS & Libraries Magazine)

Moody Memorial Library shines after its upper-level lights are restored following the “Bring Back the Light” event, January 2018.

Few buildings on campus are as iconic as Moody Memorial Library, a mid-century marvel anchoring the end of Fountain Mall opposite Pat Neff Hall. Long considered the academic life center of campus, Moody has been home to millions of print volumes, late night study sessions, expert guidance from library faculty and countless hours spent in study carrells. In celebration of Moody’s unique contributions to the campus community, the Baylor Libraries are honoring Moody’s 50th anniversary with a series of events, promotions, contests and limited edition designs.

“A Modern and Functional Library”– Moody’s roots extend into the mid-1960s as the university faced a time of growth and change best encompassed in its Projection 68 campaign, a push to upgrade Baylor’s physical plant with several new buildings by the end of the decade. A larger, modern library was seen as a high priority to replace the cramped, aging space in Carroll Library that had long since been outgrown by the student body. With an initial gift from the Moody Foundation paving the way, the fundraising for the new library was completed and a groundbreaking ceremony held on October 21, 1966.

Dignitaries including Baylor President Abner McCall (far right) join Mary Moody Northern participate in the groundbreaking ceremony for Moody Memorial Library, October 22, 1966.

Despite construction delays that pushed its opening into the fall semester of 1968, Moody Memorial Library opened roughly when expected, with four floors of book stacks, study spaces, offices and classrooms winning instant praise from students, faculty and staff alike. The main entry into the space – formally dubbed the Exhibits Lounge and named in memory of Ada Allbritton, wife of building chairman Joe Allbritton – offered comfortable seating and gallery walls for displaying artwork. Two large gardens provided sunlight and views of greenery for the Garden Level, and modern furniture and period appropriate textiles in colors like yellow, green, and orange added to the mid-century aesthetic.

Moody’s evolution over the next 50 years would see the addition of computer terminals, photocopiers, scanners, printers, and new study spaces. As students’ needs changed, the building changed with them; today’s student body, the most mobile in history, is looking for places to gather in small groups for study sessions or smaller spaces to hunker down and focus without the distractions of roommates and active apartments. Library administrators, led by Interim Dean of Libraries John S. Wilson, continue to focus on adapting Moody’s physical layout to fit the needs of a growing campus; however, work to fully modernize Moody remains.

Celebrating in Style

The year-long celebration of Moody’s 50th has included a kickoff event in January that honored the installation of new upper-level façade lights – for the first time in decades – presided over by President Linda Livingstone; a student art contest called Moody Through Your Lens; the use of social media hashtags like #moody50 and #iheartmoody; and upcoming plans for a celebration in September to mark Moody’s “birthday” on the day the doors officially opened in 1968.

The next half-century will bring changes and challenges for Moody and the more than one million people who enter its doors every academic year. But for a library that was hailed as “modern, functional and beautiful” back in 1968, finding new ways to stay relevant to the times is as foundational to its identity as the red brick walls and soaring windows that opened fifty years ago.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *