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Blackwell Hall currently serves as Salisbury University’s Academic Advising Center. However, it is most notable for housing the university’s longtime library from 1957 to 2016. It underwent major renovations in the 1970s, with its original building incorporated as a subsection of a new larger structure. It is named after Dr. Jefferson D. Blackwell, Maryland State Teachers College president from 1935 to 1955.


  • Blackwell Library Main Entrance, prior to 2016
  • Blackwell Library Main Entrance, prior to 2016
  • Blackwell Lounge, circa 1980-1999
  • Blackwell Library's Interior Entrance, 1977
  • Original Blackwell Library, before 1969
  • Student studying in the stacks, undated
  • Blackwell Library Interior and Card Catalog, 1994
  • Student re-shelving books, undated
  • Students studying in Blackwell Library, 2015
  • Blackwell Library Reference Desk, circa 1980-1999
  • Blackwell Hall Desk, 2017
  • Blackwell Hall, 2020
  • Card catalog
  • Construction of Blackwell Library, circa 1955

Maryland State Teachers College’s (STC) library was originally housed in the north wing of its main building, Holloway Hall. However, its capacity was eventually surpassed by the school’s growing collections. Plans for the construction of a new library building surfaced in 1949 under STC's third president, Dr. Jefferson D. Blackwell. The following year, the college approved a six year building program which included $363,000 set aside for a new library building. As planned, construction of the new library began in 1956 under STC's fourth president, Dr. Wilbur Devilbiss. It concluded in September of 1957, with the building’s opening and dedication the following month. The cost totaled $398,750. Grace Chaires served as the facility’s first librarian.

The new library building was located in between the male dormitory (Wicomico Hall) and the main building. It consisted of two stories and a basement, and was built in a brick Maryland Colonial style. Its first floor housed two reading rooms, two rows of stacks, a reference room, circulation desk, staff workroom, and librarian’s office. The second floor also housed a pair of reading rooms and stack rows, as well as a curriculum lab, a Maryland room, a conference and audio-visual room, an Art and Treasure Room for exhibits, a music room, a staff room, a typing room, and storage space. 

The library was not officially named until ten years after its construction. In 1966, Salisbury State College had all of its academic buildings named after important figures from the school’s history. The library was named after President Blackwell. Blackwell had been the school’s president from 1935 to 1955, and was instrumental in the planning and establishment of the library building.

In 1973, Salisbury State College underwent a $1.7 million initiative to renovate and expand its library under SSC president Dr. Norman Crawford. This was with the intention to triple the library’s square footage and accommodate a stack capacity of 165,000 volumes. While it was hoped to have the library up and running for the start of the 1974-1975 academic year, construction was completed in October of 1974. The renovated Blackwell Library had an official open house on September 14, 1975. Keith Vail, the university’s first male librarian, was made Associate Director of the new library. He commented on a shift in the library’s purpose after its renovation, being from teacher training to academic research. 

The renovation absorbed Salisbury State College’s original Blackwell Library as a subsection, making up the new building’s southeast corner, featuring the library’s reference section and Maryland Room. The new library included a gallery on the second floor. It also included a greater number of study cubicles and rooms, a listening room, and a new emergency alarm system. The new building would achieve the goal of accommodating the 165,000 volumes and expand the square footage of Salisbury State College’s library from 22,000 to 66,000 square feet.

Blackwell Library would remain Salisbury University’s library building for over 40 years after its renovation. In 2016, Blackwell Library was renamed Blackwell Hall and the building’s tenure as the library ended. The recently built Guerrieri Academic Commons would now house the school’s collections. Blackwell Hall was re-purposed as a center for academic advising and counseling for Salisbury University students.

Bradley, Sylvia. Salisbury: From Normal School to University 1925 - 2001 . Salisbury, Maryland. Salisbury University Press, 2002.

"Construction of New Library Scheduled to Begin in June." The Holly Leaf May 23rd 1956.

"First STC Library Was Founded in 1925." The Holly Leaf October 30th 1957.

Hart, Janet. "Cheerful Service Characterizes Library Staff." The Holly Leaf October 30th 1957.

"New Campus Library Will Seat 250 Persons." The Holly Leaf October 30th 1957.

"STC Library Dedication Will Be Held Today; Third New Building Added In Past Six Years." The Holly Leaf October 30th 1957.

"To Be Dedicated: Student Union Building." The Holly Leaf November 23rd 1966.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Jennifer Piegols

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031

Nabb Research Center, SUA-031