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The John Deaver Drinko Library has been the primary library on campus since it opened in 1998. It stands at the former site of the College of Science Building, Northcott Hall (1915-1995), which was demolished to make room for the new library. Campus officials developed plans for a new library throughout the 1990s as a way to both replace the older Morrow Library and provide new technological and multimedia opportunities to students. It was named in honor of prominent attorney John Deaver Drinko, the largest donor for the library project. Drinko gives Marshall students a place to study, collaborate with peers, utilize computers and access thousands of books, journals, and electronic materials. The library today contains over 180,000 books and other materials, reading and study areas, high-speed Internet and computers, presentation rooms, IT services, a cafe, and a 24/7 computer lab.

  • The John Deaver Drinko Library opened in 1998 and provides an array of research, technology, and study opportunities for students.
  • Northcott Hall was constructed in 1915 to house science classrooms and was the first building on campus separate from Old Main.
  • When Northcott Hall was demolished, the stone arch entrance was preserved and used in the design of the library as a window.
  • Succesful attorney and Marshall graduate John Deaver Drinko (1921-2008) was one of Marshall's most prolific donors. He contributed around $2.3 million to the library alone.

By the 1990s Morrow Library, built in 1931, had become inadequate for the growing needs of Marshall University. In 1991 J. Wade Gilley became President of Marshall and made the creation of a new library one of his top priorities. In 1995 the university began an ambitious fundraising campaign, kickstarted with an initial $1 million donation from attorney John Deaver Drinko. A combination of 2,300 individual donations, state bond money, a federal grant, and the passage of a library fee for students raised a total of $31 million for a new, state-of-the-art library.

The site of the old Northcott Hall was chosen as the location for the new library. Northcott was built in 1915 and was only the second building on campus, the first being Old Main. It was named after prominent local businessman and politician Gustavus A. Northcott (1861-1938). Northcott originally housed classrooms and facilities for the science departments; after the opening of the Science Building in 1950 it was used for the business and art departments. Northcott Hall was demolished in 1995 to make way for the construction of the new library. The building’s original, carved, stone arch at its main entrance was preserved and incorporated into the design of the library as a window.

“I was a poor boy, and someone had to build those dang places before I got there, so I always wanted to pay that back.” – John Deaver Drinko

The library was named in honor of Marshall alumnus John Deaver Drinko (1921-2008), who contributed a total of $2.3 million to its construction. Drinko grew up in a poor household in St. Mary’s, West Virginia during the Great Depression; he worked hard to attend school while also supporting his mother and sister. Drinko graduated from Marshall College in 1942 and went on to receive a law degree from Ohio University. He joined the Cleveland, Ohio law firm of Baker & Hostetler and amassed a fortune by helping it grow into one of the largest firms in the nation. John Drinko and his wife Elizabeth frequently engaged in philanthropy and gave generously to various schools and organizations; in 1987 they made the first $1 million, non-corporate donation in Marshall’s history.

The John Deaver Drinko Library opened in October, 1998. Officials at the time hailed it as a game changer for Marshall, and predicted that the library’s new technology and high-speed Internet would dramatically change the academic experience for students. The four-story, 118,000 square foot facility contains space for 200,000 books, over 300 workstations, presentation rooms, study rooms, reading areas, a cafe, an IT center, and 24/7 study center. An atrium on the third floor houses the Wilbur E. Myers Gallery of Glass. Contributed in 2002 by Myers, a prominent Marshall donor, the permanent exhibit displays 400 pieces of glass from companies such as Tiffany Studios and Steuben Glass Works. 

Casto, James C. “Lost Huntington: Northcott Hall.” Herald-Dispatch. January 6, 2014. Accessed January 1, 2020.

“Drinko donates $1 million to library fund.” MU NewsLetter. November 30, 1995. Accessed January 1, 2020. 

Gould, Alan. John Deaver Drinko: A Man of Many Parts. Huntington, WV: The Drinko Academy for American Political Institutions and Civic Culture, Marshall University.

Haye, Rick, photographer. Marshall University, Northcott Hall, 400 Hal Greer Boulevard, Huntington, Cabell County, WV. Historic American Buildings Survey. Photograph. Accessed January 1, 2020.

Highsmith, Carol M, photographer. The John Deaver Drinko Library, on the campus of Marshall University in Huntington, West Virginia. Photograph. Accessed January 1, 2020.

“Introduction.” Drinko Library. Accessed January 1, 2020. 

“Marshall philanthropist John Deaver Drinko dies.” Charleston Gazette. February 2, 2008.

 “Marshall University Official History.” Marshall University. Accessed December 18, 2019. 

MarshallU. “A Decade of the Drinko.” (video). Posted March 5, 2010. Accessed January 2, 2020.

MarshallU. “John Deaver Drinko – Philanthropist of the Year” (video). Posted March 5, 2010. Accessed January 2, 2020.

Moffat, Charles Hill. Marshall University: An Institution Comes of Age, 1837-1980. Marshall University Alumni Association, 1981. Accessed January 1, 2020. 

Roguski, Randy. “John Deaver Drinko dies; guided growth of Baker Hostetler law firm.” The Plain Dealer. March 28, 2008. Accessed January 1, 2020. 

Wellman, Dave. “The John Deaver Drinko Library: A State of the Art Library Puts Technology to Work.” Huntington Quarterly. 1999. Accessed January 1, 2020. 

“Wilbur E. Myers Gallery of Glass Dedicated.” We Are… Marshall. March 22, 2002. Accessed January 1, 2020.

Image Sources(Click to expand)

Library of Congress

Marshall University Special Collections

Library of Congress

Drinko Academy