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About the Mabee-Simpson Library at Lyon College


Mission of the Library

In support of the mission of Lyon College, the Mabee-Simpson Library provides superior quality resources and services that foster learning, working, and professional development.  While many of these resources are accessible through the campus network, many are also available in a comfortable physical facility that encourages freedom of inquiry, social exchanges, and the pursuit of personal growth.  Library services will enrich the intellectual and cultural environment of the College, while promoting and supporting lifelong learning among students, faculty, and staff.



The History of the Mabee-Simpson Library

Half of the first Graduating class at Arkansas College.  
: Charles Maxfield.  
Seated: Susie Butler (Lawrence), 
Will Patterson, and Mary Maxfield (Fitzhugh)

Lyon College’s library has come a long way since 1872.  Just like everything else in the early years of life at tiny Arkansas (now Lyon) College, the library was a small affair in the nineteenth century. For the first twenty years of the college’s existence the official college "library" was maintained in the office of the president, while the literary societies oversaw their own small libraries and the faculty provided a "reading room" of current periodicals inside one of the classrooms. The Isaac J. Long Memorial Building, completed in1893,contained one room devoted to the college's growing library of about two thousand volumes. In 1921, Erwin Gymnasium was remodeled and transformed into a library building, and Irene Ferrill was hired as the college’s first full-time librarian, a job that in previous decades had been occupied by a succession of junior faculty members. (The Erwin Library is now the fellowship hall of the First Presbyterian Church.) Mrs. Ferrill re-classified the library’s holdings according to the duodecimal system and oversaw a growing cadre of students who worked part-time in the library. By 1923, the library’s holdings had grown to 7,500 volumes. By the mid-1920s, Mrs. Ferrill and her students had re-classified the library once again, this time using the new Dewey Decimal system that was becoming the standard for institutions of higher education. Difficult financial times at the college in the latter part of the 1920s and the 1930s hit the library particularly hard. The too-small library became one of the roadblocks to successful accreditation, and one inspector in the late 1930s referred to the library as "deplorable". By World War II, library spending had almost completely dried up. But the college quickened its path toward accreditation and the development of a modern college library after the war, taking an important first step with the hiring of Dorothy Sydenstricker as librarian in 1948.

Mrs. Sydenstricker was the first Arkansas College librarian with university training in library science and would remain at the college for twenty-five years. With the move to the present campus in May 1954, the middle building of the three old Masonic buildings (later named Long Memorial) became the site of the new library, although the building also housed the chapel, post office, and bookstore. The 1950s and 1960s witnessed tremendous growth in the library’s holdings, much of it due to annual grants from the Rockefeller Brothers Fund, and the development of the college’s first interlibrary loan agreement with a group of other independent colleges known as the Arkansas Foundation of Associated Colleges (AFAC). 

The current library structure, originally called the Mabee Learning Resources Center but renamed the Mabee-Simpson Library after a major renovation in 1994-95, was completed in 1968. At that time the library’s holdings amounted to less than 50,000 volumes. Lyon College’s library has undergone significant changes since the arrival of current director Dean Covington in 1988. In 1990-91, the library made the conversion from a traditional card catalog to a computerized catalog, one whose holdings are now classified according to the Library of Congress system. The renovation of the facilities in the mid-1990s roughly doubled the size of the library, providing more space for bound periodicals, staff offices and work areas, and student study rooms.  By the end of the decade the number of holdings was nearing the 150,000-volume goal set by the Strategic Plan. In addition, the vast improvements in interlibrary loaning and the blossoming of on-line databases and services promised to revolutionize library use in the new millennium.

-written by Dr. Brooks Blevins, 

Professor of History, Missouri State University
Former Associate Professor of History, Lyon College

The Mabee-Simpson Library, Lyon College
2300 Highland Road, Batesville, AR  72501

Front desk (870) 307-7205
Interlibrary Loan (870) 307-7505
Last Maintenance:  Aug 29, 2013