Short History of the Indiana University

Chemistry Library


Gary Wiggins


The core collection of the original Chemistry Library was donated by Dr. Robert Edward Lyons around 1895.Most of those early works include his bookplates and are still in the IU Libraries.††† From 1895-1931, the Chemistry Library was housed in a room in Wylie Hall.It was moved to the ground floor of the new Chemistry Building in the early 1930s.The library was extensively remodeled and enlarged around 1965, and the present quarters were occupied during the remodeling and expansion of the Chemistry Building in the early



The Chemistry Library has long been an early adopter of new information technology.It was the first unit on campus to have a photocopy machine and the first to have a CD-ROM player.An innovative current awareness service based on the Chemical Abstracts tapes was offered for a number of years during the 1970s, initially through ARAC (the Aerospace Research Applications Center), then through the Chemical Information Center (CIC).Housed in the library, the CIC was the first place on campus, and indeed in the entire state of Indiana, to offer online searching of remote databases through the Dialog and Orbit systems.Miriam Bonham, wife of Emeritus Professor Russell A. Bonham, was the expert searcher who initially provided the service.The first director of the CIC was Dr. John M. Knego, and Dr. Gary D. Wiggins served as director for the remaining years of its existence.Another employee of the CIC was Roberta (Bobbi) Davila.A complete microfilming unit was also part of the CIC operations for many years, providing compact archival storage for laboratory notebooks and Molecular Structure Center reports.The CIC ceased operations around 1985.


In 1985, the Chemistry Library was one of the first in the world to offer the Chemical Abstracts Service Academic Program that permits low-cost searching of the CAS ONLINE files.For 10 years, this service was provided at no cost to the IUB users.CAS ONLINE was replaced at IUB by SciFinder Scholar in the mid-1990s.Since July 2000, SciFinder Scholar has been available at all IU campuses 24 hours/day with full substructure searching.In combination with subscriptions to all of the American Chemical Society journal Web editions and electronic versions of many other chemistry journals (including backfiles of most of them), the SciFinder Scholar databases provide unparalleled access to the major primary and secondary sources in chemistry.Another resource that has been available to IU researchers at all campuses since its inception is the CrossFire system that includes both the Beilstein Handbook of Organic Chemistry and the Gmelin Handbook of Inorganic and Organometallic Chemistry.In 2007, the MDL DiscoveryGate system was added as an additional platform to search the CrossFire databases, Beilstein and Gmelin.The Cambridge Structural Database is also provided by the Chemistry Library, as is the Inorganic Crystal Structure Database.


Chemistry Department secretaries oversaw the collection until the first librarian was hired in 1941.Since that date, there have been 12 heads of the Chemistry Library.Three of those served ten years or more.


Heads of the Library


1941-42 Mary Olive Ballou

1942-43 Ruby L. Reavis

1943-44 Norma J. Johnson

1944-46 Jewell Maurice

1946-50 Carl H. Kretzschmar

1950-59 Albrecht M. Kronenberger

1959-62 Charles C. Waddington

1962-65 Frances Zamnik

1965†††††††††††††††† Victor Basile

1966-75 John M. Knego

1976-2003†††††††† Gary D. Wiggins

2003-††††††††††††††† Roger Beckman


Full-time assistant heads of the Chemistry Library were employed since 1974.In order of their service the librarians were: Margaret (Green) Ryken, Leonard A. Neubert, Miriam Dye Bonham, JoAnn Keys, and Roger Beckman.After 1998, a reorganization of the science libraries at IUB eliminated the position of assistant head.Roger Beckman became the head of the Life Sciences Library in 1999 and was given the additional duty of interim head of the Chemistry Library in 2003.When Roger took on the responsibility as head librarian of the two libraries, he negotiated for Brian Winterman to work half time as the assistant head in both locations.


The success of the Chemistry Library in providing high-quality service to the faculty and students at IU and the citizens of the state of Indiana is largely due to the dedication of its librarians and staff.Full-time support staff members who helped to maintain the excellent level of library services over the years included Sarah Hiestand, who worked in the Chemistry Library from 1951-1969.Over the years, the Chemistry Library has employed a large number of capable student workers, among them, Katy, Tax, Rosie, and Greg Georgiadis, all of whom received their undergraduate chemistry degrees from IU.Since 1969, a SLIS MLS or MIS student has been assigned to work in the Chemistry Library.Most of them were in the joint Chemistry/SLIS Chemical Information Specialist masterís program and went on to become influential librarians after graduation.Over 60 students completed that program.

The reputation of the IU Chemistry Library has spread far beyond the borders of Indiana and even those of the United States.It is a great tribute to those who have worked in the Chemistry Library that this is so.


September 4, 2007