Skip to main content

Records of the University Library Planning Committee Chairman, Clarence Ver Steeg

Identifier: 4/5/9

  • Staff Only
  • No requestable containers

Scope and Contents

Boxes 1-12, 1951-1971

The University Library Planning / Library Building Committee Records of the Chairman, Clarence Ver Steeg, fill 12 boxes and span the years from 1951 to 1971. The bulk of the files date from the period 1961-1970 and consist of the working papers, memos, correspondence, and reports of the committee as it planned the building and guided the construction if the library building. Interview questionnaires and synopses, architectural drawings, and public relations materials also form a large portion of the collection. The records are divided into four subseries: administrative files; planning, design, and construction files; publications and public relations materials; and financial records.

The administrative files span the dates from 1960 to 1970 and document the meetings, work, and reports of both the Planning and Building Committees. Records include meeting notes; memoranda; correspondence; drafts and final versions of Committee reports; library use data; library policy files; and Ver Steeg's personal notes on designs, reports, and drafts of speeches, all arranged topically. A subgroup of Library Committee meetings, memos, and correspondence files tracks the work of the committee and is the most rewarding source of information to understand the evolving work of the Committee meeting by meeting. Distinct types of records (i.e., memos and correspondence) were left foldered together in original order because of their strong interrelation. The Committee's 20 Year Program Report on Libraries is an excellent synopsis of the issues faced and resolved by the Committee.

The planning, design, and construction files subseries spans the period 1961-1970 and tracks the progress of the building from idea to final structure. Records found here include library use data; Northwestern school and academic department interview summaries; expert library consultant correspondence and recommendations; drafts of design proposals with comments; research notes from site visits to other libraries; architects' project memos, sketches, and drawings; construction bids and progress reports; furniture and interior design files; research files on data processing; and Hectograph (gelatin mimeograph) master copies of general materials, some not duplicated elsewhere in the collection. Of particular note are materials in the Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Walter Netsch files documenting the architects' design development process.

The publications and public relations materials cover the dates from 1964 to1971 and reflect public communications about the library project. These materials contain texts relating to early library planning as well as the building's opening, and dedication; library tour and orientation items; and public responses to the new library found in newspapers and magazines. Formats of material include press packets; building orientation packets and pamphlets; articles and some entire issues of newspapers and magazines; and miscellaneous printed items.

The financial records span the period 1962-1965 and cover several budget-related issues pertaining to the new building. Materials include personnel records and a grant proposal from the University to the U.S. Office of Higher Education.

ADDITION, Box 13, 1964-2001

This addition to the Records of Clarence Ver Steeg, Chairman of the University Library Planning Committee, fills one box and spans the years 1964-2001. The majority of the addition dates from 1964-1970 and pertains to the opening of Northwestern's University Library. These materials include press releases, library floor plans and architectural drawings, and orientation and dedication pamphlets and packets. The Library's faculty lounge was named the Clarence L. Ver Steeg Faculty Lounge in 1970; the addition contains correspondence, statements, and publicity related to the dedication. In 2000, a revised master plan for the entire library called for a reconfiguration of the faculty lounge, accounting for the more recent correspondence found here which concerns the progress of the lounge's renovation. All materials are organized alphabetically by subject.


  • 1951 - 2001
  • Other: Majority of material found within 1961 - 1970
  • Other: Date acquired: 02/08/1984


Conditions Governing Access

There are no restrictions on use of the materials in the department for research; all patrons must comply with federal copyright regulations.

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is stored at a remote campus location and requires two business days advance notice for retrieval. Please contact the McCormick Library at or 847-491-3635 for more information or to schedule an appointment to view the collection.


13.00 Boxes

Language of Materials



This collection documents the activity of the committee established to plan and oversee construction of Northwestern University's University Library building (completed in 1970), viewed through the lens of Clarence Ver Steeg, who chaired the committte for over a decade. The Planning/Building Committee held regular, monthly meetings in addition to engaging in ongoing, sub-committee duties, site visits, and research. The collection is centered around the working files of the committee, including agendas, memos, notes, and correspondence. Decisions and progress on the building are documented through reports, architectural drawings, and press release materials.


Each series in this collection is arranged by topic, but the topics are not necessarily arranged in alphabetical order

Source of Acquisition

Materials in boxes 1-12 of the series were donated to the University Archives by Clarence Ver Steeg on August 26, 1982 (Accession Number 82-94). 

Accruals and Additions

The materials in Box 13 were donated to the University Archives as Accession 87-121 on June 29, 1987.

Related Materials

Architectural drawings for the University Library project by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Walter Netsch, held in the University Archives, are listed in the University Archives Architectural Drawings Index.

See also University Archives' General Files under University Library (Record Group 9): "Building, University Library (New Library)."

Separated Materials

Boxes 1-12: Three linear inches of duplicate and extraneous materials were discarded. An audio recording of Ver Steeg's oral presentation at the University Library's faculty orientation from November, 1969, may be found in the University Archives' collection of audiocassettes (Item Number 1738).

Box 13: Approximately fifteen inches of duplicate materials were removed from the accession and discarded in processing.

Guide to the Records of the University Library Planning Committee Chairman, Clarence Ver Steeg
Jason Nargis; Nicholas Cizek (addition)
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Library Details

Part of the Northwestern University Archives Repository

Deering Library, Level 3
1970 Campus Dr.
Evanston IL 60208-2300 US