This is part of a series The Miami Student is running about the University Archives. All information in the following article was obtained from the University Archives with the help of University Archivist Bob Schmidt.
Quite a few myths exist at Miami University — the myth that students get free tuition if they are hit by a Miami Metro bus, the myth that students automatically receive all A’s for the semester if his or her roommate dies and the myth that the dining halls spray protein on the lettuce. One myth often told to groups of perspective students touring Miami’s campus is about the library’s move from Alumni Hall to King Library 45 years ago.
The story goes something like this — in 1966, Miami finally got a new library but needed a way to transfer the books from the old building to the new one. So, President Phillip Shriver gave students the day off school if they volunteered to move the books.
In reality, Shriver did no such thing. Students who volunteered to move the books did indeed have the day off, but only because the move happened on a Saturday.
On Nov. 19, 1966, 22 social fraternities volunteered to move about 40,000 books and periodicals from Alumni Hall to the new Edgar Wield King Library. The 60 volunteers used “book trucks,” more commonly known as carts, to move the volumes the 200 yards between the two buildings “human bucket brigade” style.
The move went so smoothly the Nov. 22, 1966 issue of The Miami Student declared, “If nothing else, Miami students proved Saturday that humans are more advanced than machines in this day of advanced automation.”
While students today may have a hard time imagining the campus without King Library (or the café inside), the new library was a big change for the campus.
“The opening of the E.W. King Undergraduate Library on Nov. 20 was received with acclaim from all sides, and it is indeed a tremendous success in terms of beauty, comfort and utility,” Director of Libraries L.S. Dutton said in a report dated June 30, 1966.
Dutton did express concern that the library might not have enough seating stations, a problem students often run into during finals week 45 years later.
When King Library was opened, the university libraries possessed 431,711 volumes in total. Today, the libraries have over 4 million volumes.