The Albertsons Library is located on the Boise State University campus, north of the Administration Building. The building architects were Hummel –Hummel-Jones and Shawver, a local architecture firm. Construction of the building began in 1962 after district voters approved an $800,000 bond. In 1964, then Boise Junior College, opened the doors to a new, some 44,000 square foot, modernist library building. Since then, the building has undergone two additions between 1970 and 1995 and now also houses the College of Innovation and Design and the Maker Lab.
Backstory and Context
The Library began in 1932, most likely a shelf or two in the office of a Dean or Professor with a modest 4,000 volumes. It wasn’t long before the growth of the student body, mostly due to the GI Bill after World War II, demanded a library that met their needs. By the early 1960’s the library was occupying an entire end of the Administration Building and bursting at the seams. In July 1960, Boise Junior College had 24,424 volumes. By the time the library moved to its new building there were over 20,000 volumes.
In 1961 the architects Hummel-Hummel-Jones and Shawver were tasked with creating a modern aesthetically pleasing building, yet inviting to students and faculty. They chose to use dark red brick with white cast stone trim and vertical fenestration which was the characteristic design motif of the campus at the time. The main entrance featured two Precast Terrazo staircases with a Terrazo base and floor that lead to the second floor. Amenities included an informal reading and smoking room and a typing room.
In 1964 still a two-year junior college, a new modern library building was opened. It was the intent when the building was built that the entire first floor would be dedicated to books with the second floor being dedicated to the Instructional Materials Center, office and classroom spaces. The library was planned as a Junior College building and as such would have served it well for many years, but in 1965 when the two-year college became a developing four-year degree granting institution, it was no longer large enough.
In 1967, the Esquire Club, a college organization that's composed of veterans, raised funds to build a mall and fountain between the Library and the Liberal Arts Building. The mall would be dedicated to the memory of Idaho men and women who had died in the armed forces. The cost of the mall was $17,500 and it featured a fountain, planters, benches, sidewalk and flagpole. On October 22, 1968 the mall and fountain were dedicated and many state dignitaries delivered speeches, including Sen. Frank Church.
Also in 1968, President Barnes prioritized a $2,616,000 four-story addition to the Library on the west side of the existing structure. The $2,616,000 included the cost of books, desks, stacks, electronic and other equipment. Construction of the second phase lasted from 1970-1972. When the addition was completed the Library was renamed The Library Learning Center.
In 1993, another expansion to the Library was planned. This addition was planned for the south facing side of the two story original building. The addition would include the removal of the mall, fountain and the two staircases in the main entry and addition of the columnned hall and a three-floor atrium. Also in 1993, former Albertsons executive, Warren McCain, offered a matching gift to the library which created a 2 million dollar endowment for the collection of books on western life. Upon the completion of the addition and the new McCain Reading Room in 1995, the Library was rededicated and renamed the Albertsons Library.
In 2015, the Maker Lab opened on the first floor, a student center that features 3D printers, vinyl cutter, a green screen and more. Also in 2015, the College of Innovation and Design opened on the second floor replacing the old Instructional Materials Center space.