History of the Littman Library

[facade]When the School of Architecture (SOA) was founded at the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1973, a sizable collection of architecture books was initially purchased to support the school's curriculum, from studio practice to architectural history and theory. This core collection was housed at the Robert W.Van Houten Library, the main library on campus.

To further support the teaching activities of the SOA faculty, a slide collection and slide projection equipment was also assembled, housed, and managed by the School of Architecture. As the school grew through the middle and late 1970's, it became apparent that there was a growing need for a larger and more immediately-accessible collection of books and journals than that was available in the Van Houten Library. Thus, the School of Architecture began to acquire books and journals with money earned through an annual Beaux Arts Ball, leading to the formation of the Architecture Information Center (A.I.C.). This center was staffed by two full-time employees (one library professional, one paraprofessional) and a myriad of work-study students, and its collection was reference and non-circulating,. A semicircle of book stacks in a corner of the exhibit gallery on the fourth floor of Campbell Hall encompassed the whole of the the A.I.C.

Through the 1980's, the A.I.C. and its collections continued to be funded, administered, and serviced by the School of Architecture. At the same time, the Van Houten Library continued to purchase books on architecture for its own circulating collection, including increased book purchases in the year before National Architecture Accrediting Board (NAAB) visits. By the late 1980s, two parallel collections of architectural materials existed on campus. The extent to which the staff at the main library and at the A.I.C. collaborated and consulted with each other on purchasing, policy, and service decisions appeared to be minimal, and there was no common catalog of each facility's holdings.

By the early 1990s, the SOA, Van Houten library, and university administration began to consider the dubious wisdom of duplicated efforts and fractured access under the existing system. Concerns about the quality of library access, service, and facilities had also been expressed in NAAB accreditation reports. Thus, in 1992, full responsibility for the management and growth of the Architecture Information Center was transferred to the Van Houten Library, and the A.I.C became the first branch library at NJIT. One of the key results of the merger was the cataloging of the A.I.C's holdings and their integration into the main library, making the collection accessible through the campus network system. In the summer of 1993, the A.I.C. moved to the fifth floor of Campbell Hall to an approximately 3,502.5 square foot reconditioned facility - an increase of over 347% in square footage from the old space.With the expansion, many of the architecture-related materials in the Van Houten Library were transferred to the new Architecture Information Center facility. Most of the transferred material continued to circulate, while most of the material already in the A.I.C. formed the reference collection. The Architecture Information Center denoted its new space and newly unified collections by changing its name to the "Architecture Library," recognizing the completion of a journey from an architecture "information center" to a full-service architecture "library."

In January 1997, the university began construction on a long-awaited and much-needed project to provide the School of Architecture with new facilities. One year later, in January 1998, phase one of the $26 million, 195,000-square-foot Building Science Complex was completed. For the first time in its history, the New Jersey Institute of Technology's  School of Architecture - by now the fifth largest in the country - was consolidated in one dedicated building. Designed to give long views of the city beyond campus, nighttime activity in the studio transformed the addition into a lantern illuminating University Heights. A soaring, kinetic, four-story atrium serves as an entrance to the school and connects the two spaces.

 The completely renovated Weston Hall contains administration offices, imaging labs, model shops, studios and the Architecture Library.[interior view]

 The library which comprises 6,155.5 square feet  (176% larger than the previous facility) on the fourth floor of Weston Hall (officially, room 456). In the new space stack storage increased by 150%, and user seating increased 160%, and computing stations and study carrels were added.. perhaps most significantly, however, the library assumed a new position of increased prominence and visibility-one floor above the administration offices and student-faculty common space, adjacent to the first level of studios, and directly off and highly visible from the four-story atrium.

The Architecture Library, formally renamed the Barbara & Leonard Littman Library. in 2000, still remains on the fourth floor of Weston HAll, but continues to grow in terms of collection size, facilities and space. Between  2002 and 2007 a new Digital Image Lab was established, a rare book collection was started and  the Digital Archive of Newark Architecture (DANA) was launched. A further renovation in 2013 increased the library space by an additional 20%; bringing the total square-footage to over 7,000 and allowing the addition of a Materials Library and group study spaces.

As of 2008, the  School of Architecture was no longer the only client of the Littman Library. With the addition of the School of Art+Design, the mission of the Library grew to support all the programs of the College of Architecture and Design (CoAD), from digital and industrial design, to interior design and architecture, to PhD and graduate programs in urban studies and infrastructure planning. In addition to providing an atmosphere conducive to study, teaching, and learning at the CoAD, the library is also used by other university students and faculty, by alumni, and professionals from New York and New Jersey. As the college continue to grow and change, so too will the Littman Library; ever striving to compliment the College of Architecture and design and provide the best traditional and innovative library services to all patrons.

(This history written by Jim Robertson, Director of the Architecture Library in 1999. It has been updated by the Architecture Library staff periodically since then. Most recent revision in Spring of 2015.)

  • 1973- New Jersey School of Architecture founded
  • 1970s -Architectural Information Center (A.I.C.) established
  • 1992- The A.I.C. comes under the direction of the Van Houten Library, and becomes the first branch library on campus
  • 1993 - The A.I.C is renamed the Architecture Library
  • 1998 - The Architecture Library moves to a new facility in Weston Hall
  • 2000 - The Architecture Library is renamed the Barbara & Leonard Littman Library
  • 2002 - Digital Image Lab added
  • 2003 - Rare book collection established
  • 2007 -Digital Archive of Newark Architecture launched
  • 2008 - The School of Art+Design is founded
  • 2013- New renovation increased space and Materials Library, seminar room and collaborative area added