History of Ingram Library
West Georgia's library began in January 1908 when Professor and Mrs. J.H. Melson hosted an afternoon event inviting the community to provide the newly-formed Fourth District Agricultural & Mechanical School with a "Cloudburst of Books." Three hundred twenty-five books were donated and organized in a converted linen closet in the Administration building. By the 1930s the library collection had over a thousand volumes and was housed in a classroom. In 1933, the newly-formed Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia granted junior college status to the school. President Irvine Sullivan Ingram appointed Annie Belle Weaver, a professional librarian trained at Emory University, to develop a library to support the institution's new mission. At the time, West Georgia College had 200 students.
In the fall of 1936, Miss Weaver received blueprints for a separate library building. Construction was funded through the federal Works Progress Administration (WPA). Construction on the library began in October of 1936 and was completed in February of 1937. Though the WPA provided no funds for shelving and furnishings, the empty library building was opened to great fanfare. Sanford Library was central to West Georgia's first accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools. In 1940 the Julius Rosenwald Fund gave $20,000 for an addition to Sanford Library, boosting its seating capacity to 130 and providing shelving space for 15,000 books.
Enrollment grew dramatically during the 1960s. The modern Academic Center, composed of four air conditioned buildings including a new library, was dedicated in 1968. The library was enlarged in 1980 and named for Dr. Irvine Sullivan Ingram. Special Collections was named in honor of Annie Belle Weaver. Ingram Library moved into the electronic age in the 1980s and 1990s with its first automated library catalog and the birth of GALILEO, Georgia Library Learning Online.
In 1983, Congressman Newt Gingrich, later Speaker of the U.S. House of Representatives, agreed to donate his papers and political memorabilia to the University. The collections of Georgia's Political Heritage Program are housed in the library's Special Collections, and include the papers and office contents of former Georgia House Speaker Thomas B. Murphy. Georgia Senator Bill Hamrick donated his papers in 2007. The Georgia Holocaust Commission's Thomas B. Murphy Teacher Training & Resource Center opened on the second floor of Ingram Library in 2001, the only center of its kind housed within the library of a state institution of higher education.
The 2003 State University of West Georgia Campus Master Plan identified the need for additional library space to support the growth of the institution, and its move to university status. In 2007 Sizemore Group, AIA of Atlanta developed a Strategic Program for the renovation and expansion of Ingram Library. During the 2008 Georgia State Legislative Session, $8 million was appropriated in the 2009 state budget to fund the renovation of the library as a tribute to late Speaker Murphy. On the ground floor, the renovation will include a re-creation of Speaker Murphy's House office and interpretative exhibits. The Annie Belle Weaver Special Collections, the Center for Public History, the Thomas B. Murphy Center for Public Service, and Georgia's Political Heritage Program will be located adjacent to the Murphy Office as part of UWG's proposed Center for Civic Engagement. The renovated main floor will feature more flexible study environments, an increased number of computer stations, an additional library entrance facing the Campus Center, and a cafe. This renovation will bring Ingram Library into the twenty-first century. A future expansion will allow space for collection growth, improved access to information through technology, and group study areas.