Air University Library celebrates 75 years

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As it is now said often that 75 is the new 40, Air University Library celebrated its 75th anniversary recently, showing that it still has youthful exuberance to get after its mission of serving the entire institution with research support for the students, faculty and staff.

The celebration on April 1, 2021, kicked off with the opening of a new exhibit in the Fairchild Research Center lobby showcasing photographs and documents from over the decades and welcoming remarks from library director Alisha Miles and Brig. Gen. Maurice McKinney, AU acting vice commander.

Academic Services director Mehmed Ali gave a presentation of how the library has grown and changed over the years.

When AU Library first stood up in 1947, it was housed in 14 separate locations across Maxwell, Gunter Annex, Tyndall Air Force Base, Florida, and other bases and included a main library, archives, microfilm building, film library and the “Arctic-Desert-Tropic Information Center.”

In October of 1956, at a construction cost of $1 million, the current library opened. It was dedicated to Gen. Muir S. Fairchild, AU’s first commander, and consolidated all of the disparate operations under one roof. 

Anniversary celebration attendees heard about the library’s work on the Vietnam War era Project Corona Harvest, its first integrated computer system and even the role of former director Robert Severance in leading to desegregate the Alabama Library Association. Also discussed were several of the library’s newer initiatives such as the Innovation Lab, the Virtual Reality Classroom, the Cockpit Design Lab and other spaces that provide Airmen and Guardians with tools for creative learning.

Miles closed the event by saying, “As we celebrate 75 years of Air University Library, it is important to note that all the library has done over the last 75 years would not have been possible without a great team. Timothy Healy, the previous president of the New York Public Library, said it best: ‘The most important asset of any library goes home at night – the library staff.’ Nothing would be possible without our amazing current and previous team members.”