In addition to its other offerings, the Newman Library also houses the university's Special Collections. Highlights of the collection include primary and secondary materials documenting 19th-and 20th-century American history and culture. They represent topics such as the American Civil War, Appalachia, U.S. aerospace exploration, botany and horticulture, railroad history, speculative fiction, university history, and more; there are over 175 collections pertaining to the International Archive of Women in Architecture (IAWA).
The original Carol M. Newman Library building opened in 1955. The library underwent renovations and received a six-story addition in 1981. More recently, in 2009, the lobby was modified to accommodate a café. The facility is named for Carol Montgomery Newman, professor, dean of the Academic Department, and head of the English department (1903 to 1941). Newman is known as the godfather of extracurricular activities,1 having served as secretary of the Athletic Council, chair of the college social committee, and chair of the YMCA advisory board. A popular English and rhetoric teacher, Newman was also a member of the library committee and believed that books were an invaluable element in living.2