ONU students recall ‘booking it’ across campus

Students in 1968 carry boxes of books from the old library in Presser Hall to the new Heterick Memorial Library at the west end of Ohio Northern University. Despite the scale of the project, the library was open and ready for business the following day. “I’m not sure how many students took part in that line, but we were lined up clear up to the old building, passing out boxes back and forth to each other into the new library. It was fun. You got to laugh and talk and more or less we had a pretty good time doing it,” recalls former student Mark Moody. (Photo courtesy of Paul Logsdon)


ADA — Feb. 14, 1968, was a cold day on the campus of Ohio Northern University.

Photos from that date show snow on the ground and a parade of students — bundled up in hats, coats and gloves — toting cardboard boxes filled with books from the old library in Presser Hall to the new Heterick Memorial Library on west campus.

“It’s probably the most robustly constructed building on campus,” said Paul Logsdon, university archivist. “It’s very heavy concrete panels which is nice when it’s windy — you don’t have to worry about the roof blowing off.”

Logsdon knows every nook and cranny of the building. He started working at Heterick in 1977, first as a reference librarian and later as director. When he retired in 2012, he took on the role of university archivist.

“The thing that was interesting of course was the shot of campus (at the time) because it was really empty,” he said. “If you looked you could see these buildings way off in the distance, but no chapel, for instance. Nothing like that.”

The three-story structure is now surrounded by department buildings, residence halls and the student union. A golden anniversary celebration for the library will be held Feb. 14. Weather permitting, participants will recreate the walk those students did 50 years ago, said current library director Kathleen Baril.

“We will walk from Presser to Heterick,” she said. “We’re hoping to get a lot of the campus community to join us.”

Each person will carry a book that is special to them and then record the volume they carried. The walk begins at 12:30 p.m. Logsdon will give a presentation on the library’s history at 1 p.m. The university hopes former students will return and share their memories of moving day.

‘Growing, growing, growing’

Heterick Memorial is the latest in a long line of library locations in Ohio Northern’s history, said Logsdon.

When Henry Solomon Lehr founded the university in 1871, he divided his personal library between two student groups, the Franklin Literary Society and the Philomathean Literary Society.

In August 1879, Hill Building was opened, and the two societies moved their facilities to its third floor, he said. The Adelphian Literary Society was founded in 1880 and also received books from Lehr. The Adelphians were located in the old Normal School Building, on the site of the present day Lehr Memorial.

“The university had a small collection and reading room of its own, but the idea was that the societies would collect materials that would appeal to their members and be useful to them. And then of course the university wouldn’t have to spend money on developing those collections,” Logsdon explained.

By the first decade of the 20th century, the development of professional programs like pharmacy and engineering prompted the need for a more permanent library.

On Nov. 4, 1913, Hill Memorial caught fire. No one was injured, but about two-thirds of the societies’ collections were lost.

“We actually still have a few of their books in the collection,” said Logsdon. “Some have literary society bookplates. Most of them are in the archives.”

After the fire, what was left of the library was moved to the second floor of Lehr Memorial, where it stayed until 1930 when it made another move to Brown Hall. The library was again relocated in 1953 to Presser Hall, which tripled the amount of available shelf space. Prior to the move, Presser had served the music and theatre departments.

At commencement ceremonies the following spring, the facility was named the Heterick Memorial Library after Dr. and Mrs. Robert Heterick for their generous support of the library over the years.

An increase in the number of students and concerns over accreditation were factors for constructing a building that was exclusively dedicated to serving as a library, said Logsdon.

“There was some not-so-subtle pressure in the 1950s and ’60s, first to get accreditation from the North Central Association and then to keep accreditation,” he said. “And the other thing was, when the library was moved into Presser, there were 900 students or so enrolled. By the time it moved into this building, there were roughly 2,600, so the institution was just growing, growing, growing.”

Bids for the project were let in July 1966 with the groundbreaking held in August. By February 1968, students helped carry the collection of books from Presser to Heterick.

The hectic scene of boxes of books arriving in the new Heterick Memorial Library on the campus of Ohio Northern University. (Photo courtesy of Paul Logsdon)

‘A human conveyor belt’

Mark Moody, who is now a pharmacist in Zanesville, was a sophomore at ONU in 1968.

“I just remember that we all stood in a line and passed boxes after boxes after boxes of books from the front library, the old library, to the new library,” he said in a recent telephone interview.

Despite the scale of the project, the library was open and ready for business the following day.

“I’m not sure how many students took part in that line, but we were lined up clear up to the old building, passing out boxes back and forth to each other into the new library,” said Moody. “It was fun. You got to laugh and talk and more or less we had a pretty good time doing it.”

Moody, 68, said it seemed like the students were enthusiastic about the new library.

“It was quite a bit more modern than what the old one was … so I think everybody was kind of excited about getting into it,” he said.

Today Cheryl Burcham Cotner is a member of the ONU Board of Trustees from Greenville, South Carolina. In 1968, she was a senior at Ohio Northern.

“I had been working in the library at the check-out desk for three years. It was a great way to meet new students and see who was dating whom,” she wrote in an email, adding that dates to the library were popular during the week. “Also keep in mind that in 1968 there were seven boys for every one girl at ONU. Working nights in the library was a great way to meet the boys.”

Classes were canceled on library moving day, Cotner said, explaining that the plan was to have the students work as a human chain, passing the boxes of books from Presser all the way to the new library building.

“The students were going to be a human conveyor belt,” she said. “The day was gloomy, cold and snowy. A lot of students did not show up to help.”

She also recalled that many of the students went out and partied the night before since classes were canceled the next day.

“ONU college girls had ‘hours,’ which means we had curfews and we were all back in our dorm rooms by 11 p.m. My ‘now husband’ was in his first year of law school. Two of his classmates decided to go to Lima for more drinking after the girls were tucked inside for the night; they had been drinking in the local Ada bar all evening,” she said.

The evening would later end in tragedy, she said. On the way back to Ada, the two students were involved in a traffic accident. The driver was killed and the passenger was hospitalized in Lima. Cotner added that the student did recover. He returned to law school and graduated with the class of 1970.

From turntables to TVs

Logsdon said the library was built with an eye toward the future; provisions were made for the addition of two more floors as needed. “In fact, the elevator had buttons for four floors, and people were constantly pushing number four and asking, ‘why doesn’t something happen?'”

The building was located at the back of what was then the west end of campus.

“We’re part of the original college of agriculture. The university farm used to be out here,” said Logsdon, adding the college of agriculture went out of business in 1925. “The university at one point had talked about developing a golf course out here but the funding, mercifully, was not available.”

Logsdon said the architects who designed the building opted for basic and functional. And when it came time to move the collection of books, students, faculty and staff were enlisted to help.

“Nowadays you would hire a company,” said Baril.

“The collection was a little smaller,” Logsdon added. “But the furniture was all in. They were just hauling the books over.”

Attorney Ray Donadio Jr. was not a student at ONU at the time of the move but enrolled there five years later, in 1973.

“In ’73 we didn’t have digital stuff then. We had record players along that wall when you walk in the front doors,” he recalled. “Along that wall in the stairwell was about five chairs with five turntables. And you’d go to the desk and get some LPs and headphones, and you could sit there and listen to LPs and read.”

That was modern technology, he laughed.

Moody, who now resides in Florida, said he enjoyed studying at the library.

“It was such a calming place. The furniture was comfortable. It was a haven then. I wasn’t a great studier. I spent a lot of time at the library studying because it was a quiet place,” he said. “And being a music lover, those turntables downstairs are my absolute fondest memory.”

By 1997, more space was needed for student seating, computer facilities and a growing collection. The decision was made to add a third floor and renovate the existing building.

“We sort of reached into the bag of tricks and said, ‘hey, look, we opened the building with an enrollment that was quite a bit lower than it is now. The collection is a lot larger. We’ve got to do something,'” said Logsdon. “So we got on the list of building projects and they added a third floor.”

While a fourth floor at the same time would have been nice, he said, the roof of the third floor was constructed so it can be the floor of a fourth story.

Another major renovation of the first floor occurred in 2016.

“Library resources have changed greatly and we are not using as many print resources, so we recognize that. And also the way our students learn is not the same as it was 20 to 30 years ago,” Baril said. “So we saw a need for different spaces for studying including a lot of group study and a lot of group projects.”

A committee of students and faculty from across campus were involved in planning.

“There’s enclosed glass group study rooms with technology so you can hook up your laptop onto a big TV. White boards are everywhere. That was a big ask from all the students,” she said. “Then there’s lots of little areas where groups could possibly meet. And we added a cafe because that was a big ask.”

The second floor contains more study space and the university’s writing center, while the third floor now holds most of the print collections, she said.

“We always tell the students, ‘the first floor is the area where you can be loud and chatty’. The second floor, I call it light talking. The third floor, if you need just total silence, that’s where you go study. So there’s something for every type of student,” said Baril.

“The interesting thing is, students pretty much adhere to that on their own. I think there’s a lot of subtle social pressure — put a cork in it if you’re talking on the third floor,” Logsdon added.
Despite all of the changes and the abundance of online resources now available, Baril said students still flock to the library, and she doesn’t see that ever changing.

“When we did our last renovations, we did a lot of talking with students, and they said, ‘I need a place that I know I’m going to do my studying,'” she said. “‘I’m going to goof off in my room, but I know the library’s a place that I can go and get down to business.'”

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Library benefactors’ legacy ‘remains’


ADA — An ever-present reminder of Heterick Memorial Library’s benefactors remains intact after half a century: the ashes of Robert Hynton and Frances Felker Heterick.

“And it is the ashes, not as some undergraduates are told, their bodies,” said Paul Logsdon, former library director and now university archivist. “You get this idea like they’re in sort of a file drawer or something.”

Frances was one of four daughters of Mike and Caroline Felker. Born in Ada, she attended Ada Union School District and Ohio Northern University, a member of the class of 1907 and was the recipent of a varsity letter in basketball, Logsdon said.

“She was the team champion, and what’s interesting about this was, this was years before the N-Men’s Association was organized so they were giving these letters to women as well as men for athletic prowess,” said Logsdon.

The following year, Frances went on to nurse’s training at Cincinnati’s Good Samaritan Hospital where she met Robert Heterick, who was there studying medicine.

“At that time it was definitely a no-no for doctors to date nursing students, but the two of them pretty much ignored that,” Logsdon said. “We don’t know the details but it kind of fits in with their adventurous personalities.”

The couple was married in 1908 and Robert Heterick went to work for the U.S. Public Health Service, a branch of the armed services.

“He had a career and of course she did naturally, as well, that literally spanned the world, so they were everywhere,” said Logsdon. “He was stationed at Ellis Island, at Angel Island, stationed overseas during the first world war.”

Most of Frances’s relatives still lived in Ohio, including Ada, so the couple frequently returned to visit, said Logsdon. They also gave books to the university and to the public library.

“During World War II there’s an article in the local paper about how the Hetericks have given some books to the public library. So even in the midst of national conflict, they still have this local connection,” he said.

The couple retired to Albuquerque, New Mexico. When Robert died in 1957, there was an initial gift to the university for a library, said Logsdon, adding that’s when it became the Heterick Memorial Library.

The library was located in Presser Hall at the time. In July 1958, Robert’s ashes were temporarily interred in the lawn in front of Presser. Frances’s remains joined his in 1964, at which point the bulk of the estate came to the university.

With the construction of Heterick Memorial Library, the first building on campus constructed specifically to house the university’s library, the couple’s remains were placed in permanent niches in the northwest corner.


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