Moving to IIT
The collections and services offered by the original John Crerar Library grew steadily during its early years. The boom in scientific, medical and technical publication post-World War II contributed to increasingly rapid growth from the 1940's and into the 1950's. The building became overcrowded in the 1950's, and at the same time the endowment income was increasingly insufficient to cover operations and collection acquisitions. Among the solutions explored was the possibility of affiliating with an academic institution. Studies of the use of the Crerar Library collections showed that some of the most active users of the Library were students and research personnel at the Illinois Institute of Technology (IIT). In late 1958, IIT made a proposal for the John Crerar Library to move to its south side campus. The proposal was accepted in June of 1959 and a long term cooperative library program agreement was signed in June 1961. This unique agreement allowed the Crerar Library to continue to serve as a free public reference library while at the same time providing library services to the IIT campus.
From its beginning, the Crerar Library was associated not only with research, but also with education. It is not surprising then that an agreement with a Chicago institution of higher learning was undertaken. At the dedication of the new building on the IIT campus on April 3, 1963, the educational importance of the Library was affirmed by John T. Rettaliata, then president of IIT:
"The Crerar Library has always been, of itself a teaching institution. It seems only logical that it should become part of the life of a research and teaching community."
During the time that the Crerar Library was located at IIT, services to industry and the medical community were emphasized. The Corporate Members Program was emphasized, as were the National Translations Center and the role of the Crerar Library as the Midwest Regional Medical Library. Corporate Members were actively recruited via letters of solicitation and the various services were promoted using advertisements, flyers and short articles on the library in various technical newsletters and magazines.
On the IIT campus, the Crerar Library was housed in a $2,000,000 facility designed by Walter Netsch, Jr. of the Chicago architectural firm, Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill. The building is located at 35 West 33rd Street and is currently home to IIT's Paul V. Galvin Library. The building program was developed to address four major objectives: (1) separate study areas for students and researchers, (2) accessibility of frequently used books to each of these groups, (3) close coordination of public catalogs, bibliographical resources, and loan and reference services, and (4) accessibility of catalogs and bibliographies to library personnel. It is interesting to note that only 5 years growth in collection space was planned, since there was every expectation that microfilm and other "miniaturizaton" techniques would make traditional print volumes housed in traditional stacks shelving economically undesirable. It was a 92,000-square-foot facility with a modern aesthetic inspired by Mies van der Rohe. However, by the mid-1970s, the facility had become inadequate to house collections and services. In 1980 the Crerar Library and IIT agreed to terminate the contract within four years.