I am a native of Roanoke and have been on the VWCC library staff since 1972. Before that I was getting a Master’s in Library Science from the University of Maryland and before that a Bachelor’s in English from William and Mary. My job title is Learning Resources Center Director; that means Head Librarian, more or less.
For 36 years, I have worked in the same building, the three-story Brown Library building on the northern end of the campus. Recently in the college archives I came across layout drawings of this building from the 1970’s. The drawings reminded me of how much has changed since the years when I first came here.
In those years, we had far fewer buildings on campus and were very hard-pressed for space. As a result, all of the departments that now fill up Chapman Hall——Admissions, Counseling, Financial Aid, and Records——were shoehorned into Brown, with Financial Aid on the top floor and the others on the ground floor. It was actually worse than that because the Brown Library building also contained the college’s auditorium, bookstore, and restaurant/cafeteria! The bookstore occupied the space on the ground floor where we now have the large computer lab. The auditorium was carved out of space on the top floor on the side, overlooking the parking lot, and the restaurant (with its tables and grill) was in the same space where you now find the main room of the Learning Technology Center (LTC). In the 1970’s, the LTC was called the Learning Lab, and it filled the entire back side of the top floor.
As a result of these necessary annexations of library space, the library itself had the use only of about half the top floor. This was bearable because, in those days, the book collections was still small, and it was only later that we grew to the point where we needed the whole floor. Over the years, all of these non-library functions found other homes as new buildings opened up on campus. Eventually the Learning Lab moved to the ground floor of Brown and took over the whole floor, becoming the Learning Technology Center that we have today. The two upper floors of the building are now occupied entirely by the library itself, just as the planners of the building back in the 1960’s intended.
When you walk around campus today and note our attractive bookstore, and capacious auditorium and food area, and the several departments so nicely fitted into the renovated Chapman Hall, think about how all this was at one time compressed into the Brown Library building, and you will appreciate how remarkably this community college has grown since it was established in 1966.