W. R. Poage Legislative Library Birthday 2017

Today marks an important day in the history of the W. R. Poage Legislative Library – it’s our birthday!! 38 years ago, on September 21, 1979, friends, supporters, Baylor officials, and Mr. Poage himself were present for the dedication of our beloved Library. Since that warm fall day (we are in Texas after all) the Library has continued to develop a distinct identity first called upon by early supporters.

A fundraising pamphlet

In early fundraising documents, project board members called for the creation of “a center for learning.” When the Library opened its doors, in addition to being the repository for Mr. Poage’s collection, it housed the Baylor Graduate School with study areas for faculty and students involved in the Honors College. Collection materials grew, study spaces have been updated and we welcomed back graduate students to our second floor. Today, under the umbrella, we are the proud home of the Baylor Collections of Political Materials (our ever-growing legislative collections), the Bullock Archive (we are the flagship repository for the records of Lt. Governor Bob Bullock) and the Graduate Research Center (a dedicated study and research support center for Baylor graduate students and faculty).

Members of the fundraising committee were assisted by others like Rep. Tom Foley and Fowler West back in D.C.

It is fascinating to look back at our Library’s founding documents to see how visionary our founders truly were. For instance, in an early fundraising pamphlet, the text reads:

“More people today, perhaps more than at any time in history, are interested in our government and governmental processes-especially those in our younger generations…they want to learn from the actions of their predecessors how to build a better nation and government in their time for their children.”

Today, if it’s possible, these words mean even more to us in 2017. Also, the marriage of Baylor University with Mr. Poage’s papers was also quite clear to the Library’s Project Board Members:

“Obviously, the bringing together of a great institution of learning like Baylor with the well-preserved files of an exemplary legislative leader like Poage, will provide a nucleus on which to build a major educational and research ‘tool’ for the serious student.”

We are grateful for such a forward looking, mission-based vision from our founders. Today, in support of that, the Library offers research awards and a teaching fellows program to encourage research and see our collection materials used in the Baylor classroom. We are also expanding the definition of “student” to the K-12 community through our partnership with Baylor’s School of Education’s iEngage Civics Institute Civics Institute and our participation in the 2018 National History Day Themebook.

Our Library continues to grow and evolve to meet the needs of the 21st century patron. Today, that means quiet, comfortable study spaces with the latest technology available. Something that will never change is our commitment to service. We still marvel that despite being in operation for 38 years, we still haven’t matched Mr. Poage’s 42 years of congressional service. His service was truly exceptional and serves as the model for all we do.

Happy Birthday, Poage Library! Here’s to many, many more!!
Debbie Davendonis-Todd, Director and Bob Bullock Archivist

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