Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

Serving the Southern Illinois University community since 1916.

The Daily Egyptian

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What’s in a name: Morris Library

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SIU Communications

The Morris Library is not only a prominent landmark on campus, it is a tribute to the lasting legacy of its namesake: Delyte W. Morris.

SIU archivist Matt Gorzalski said, “I think the school would not have such a strong nameplate as it does now… I don’t even think we would even have our Edwardsville campus if it weren’t for him.”

Morris was elected president as SIU’s longest-serving president by the teacher’s board in 1948, just before the state implemented a seven-member independent board to overlook the university. Morris held the reins until 1970.

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Cindy Chester, the head of Circulation Services, said, “Former president Morris made a lot of contributions to the university while he was here; a lot of people do not realize it, but the name Morris has a lot of history behind it.”

During his 22 years at SIU, he helped catapult the university into becoming one of the highest-ranked American colleges. He contributed to entrepreneurship, implementing that willingness to be innovative, seize opportunities and reward creativity.

Morris, born in 1906, was originally from Xenia, Illinois—a small town located in Clay County, about two hours northeast of Carbondale. He graduated from Park College in Missouri with his bachelor’s in 1928.

He also completed a master’s and Ph.D. program, completing all his studies in 1936.

He began teaching at a high school in Oklahoma from 1928 to 1930. He then became an instructor at the University of Maine, where he taught public speaking and became the director of forensic activities; he was at that university from 1930 to 1936.

After that, he became chairman of the speech department and director of the special education clinics at the Indiana State Teachers College from 1938 to 1946.

While he was president, Morris implemented many Ph.D programs to the university’s curriculum. Morris also advocated for the creation of a TV station, an FM radio station, the university press, which is the Daily Egyptian, and a news service. In addition, he promoted outdoor education and advocated for ecology as well.

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The former president integrated facilities for people with disabilities and made the premises accessible for disabled people way before our society demanded them. He also created SIU’s law, medical and dental schools. Most importantly, he developed SIU’s second campus located in Edwardsville, Illinois, which is about a two-hour drive northwest of the Carbondale campus.

The Morris Library was built in 1956, starting with one floor and a basement. Shortly thereafter, the school added four floors making the library 272,673 square feet.

In more recent years, the school renovated the library on several occasions, adding the fifth, sixth, and seventh floors, making it one of the largest libraries in the region with a square footage of just over 320,000, making it able to accommodate 15,000 students.

The library was originally designed to hold one million volumes, but today it holds over 2.6 million volumes, 200,000 e-books and 3.6 million microform units. It is known to be state-of-the-art, with labs, classrooms, group studies, and collaborative spaces.

The Morris Library serves as the main information hub for those on campus. It is also a popular spot for students to collaborate since it is located in the middle of campus. The library hosts workshops, seminars, and training sessions.

SIU graduate Nicholas Harris, a journalism major, said, “The library is an open and collaborative space; during finals the Morris library can become very populated. However, there are 7 floors. When I was at SIU, I used to go up to the seventh floor if I wanted some quiet time to study. You can also rent out rooms for meetings; it’s overall a very nice space to work in.”

Next time you walk by or go inside the Morris library, remember what the significance of that name means to the SIU community.

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Morris Library receives additional laptops for student checkout.

A recent donation of nearly 50 laptops to Southern Illinois University Carbondale’s Morris Library by Schneider in helping augment students’ educational opportunities.

The additional laptops will “make a significant difference to our students’ ability to succeed and remain enrolled” and is in line with the university’s mission of working to ensure student success, Dean of Library Affairs John Pollitz said in an SIU Communications press release.

The laptops are strictly for student use for a semester. The program started during the COVID-19 pandemic to assist students with remote learning and has grown from there, said Marissa Ellermann, an associate professor of practice and head of circulation services.

The library now has 117 laptops available for students to check out during the semester. The laptops are available on a first-come, first-served basis.

“Although laptops can be viewed as a convenience, not having one can be an enormous barrier to success,” Ellermann said in the press release. “Students have more flexibility to complete coursework both online and in person while balancing their personal lives, which is invaluable. Schneider’s positive impact on our students will continue for years as each laptop circulates to another individual.”

Laptops started being checked out Aug. 21 for the fall semester. Students are required to show their current class schedule and sign a laptop agreement form acknowledging they are taking responsibility for the laptop’s safety, care and security for the semester. Students receive a laptop, charger and a bag, and within a week, students receive a follow-up email, which includes a reminder of when laptops are to be returned.

“It’s a serious privilege, so we make sure they understand that,” Ellermann said.

For more information on the program, contact Ellermann at 618-453-1159 or [email protected].

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