TTU library honors university's first professional librarian

Administrative offices at Tennessee Technological University's state-of-the-art library were recently named in honor of the university's first professional librarian, C.P. Snelgrove.

For 38 and a half years, from 1936 to 1974, Snelgrove served as TTU's chief librarian, spearheading its growth from 12,000 books while located in the top floor of Derryberry Hall to 245,000 books and a total of 600,000 volumes by 1974.

"We have the privilege to commemorate Mr. Snelgrove's many contributions to the library and to the university, and we have the opportunity to honor the enthusiasm and excellence he brought to his job," President Angelo Volpe said at the naming ceremony in TTU's "new" library, which began construction in 1987 and was completed in 1990.

"Mr. Snelgrove's hard work and dedication are evident in the fine collection now housed in this building," Volpe added. "The work he began in 1936 continues even now."

At age 91, Snelgrove still maintains a quick wit and told the more than 50 people at the naming ceremony that he was honored to be remembered in such a way.

"To have a building, or a street, or football field, or even administrative offices named after you is the ultimate honor," he said.

"In 1936, when I came here, this was quite a different campus and quite a different Cookeville," Snelgrove added. "We knew all of the faculty and all of the students in those days."

Snelgrove, a native of Gilbert, S.C., began his library career working at the University of South Carolina to pay for his undergraduate education and for two years while he attended graduate school.

In the fall of 1934, however, he received a scholarship to the Peabody Library School in Nashville. He graduated from the school in the spring of 1935 with a bachelor's degree in library science.

After graduation, he worked as a librarian at a Florida high school where he was contacted by the director of the Peabody Library School about a job as head librarian at the then Tennessee Polytechnic Institute.

"And the rest is Tech history," Volpe said.

During his entire 38 and a half years at TTU, Snelgrove missed only two years Ð from June 1944 to April 1946 Ð when he took a leave of absence to serve in the U.S. Navy during World War II.

While at TTU, Snelgrove, the university's first professional librarian, saw his budget for materials grow from $1,600 to more than $229,000. The number of librarians grew to 11 and the staff grew to 17. He also saw the library expand from the top floor of Derryberry Hall to the Jere Whitson Building before the latest facility was built.

The university also grew during Snelgrove's career, pointed out Volpe. The faculty went from 30 people to 300 and the student population grew from an enrollment of 350 to more than 7,000. And while Snelgrove was librarian, TTU's expenditures grew from $60,000 in 1936 to more than $15 million in 1974, when he retired.

Snelgrove continues to remain active in the Cookeville community where he organized and chaired the TTU Emeritus Faculty Club, served in the Tennessee Library Association, the Cookeville Rotary Club, American Red Cross, American Cancer Society, the Tennessee Folklore Society and the TTU Symphony Guild.

In 1997, Snelgrove received the Outstanding Service Award from the TTU Alumni Association.

"If I had my life to live over again, I wouldn't change any major things," Snelgrove said at the ceremony. "The last 65 years have been great, and the years before that were great, too."