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History of the EPSL

The study of engineering has a long history at the University of Maryland, College Park. As early as the 1890s, the Engineering Department was firmly established and complemented by a small collection of resources. Although not a library, this collection of resources continued to develop as the University grew. In the 1930s, the collection had improved, but fell short of being a formal library as it had no full time staff and held only a few hundred volumes and fewer than twenty periodical subscriptions

Following World War II, interest in engineering skyrocketed. As the field developed and grew, so did the Engineering Department at the University of Maryland. In response, the need grew for academic support of the field. Due to this need an allocation was made for an engineering and physical sciences library in the soon-to-be constructed engineering building.

In 1949, a professional librarian was hired for the new, Engineering and Physical Sciences Library (EPSL). Managing the move of the library, Marguerite G. Ritchie worked to secure all of the appropriate subject titles for EPSL. After transferring resources from McKeldin library, the resources at EPSL were in dire need of cataloging. After addressing this problem, Ritchie sought to secure additional funds in order to develop and improve the collection. The UM library system lacked the resources necessary to support such a quickly developing and innovative field.

When the new facility opened in 1953, it appeared that the space issue would not be a concern. Just a few years later, however, the new and seemingly spacious library was bursting at the seams with resources. In addition to purchased resources, EPSL served as a repository for government reports in the Technical Reports Center. The library also accepted numerous resources as donations and gifts which were added to the collection.

By 1961, three full time librarians were employed at EPSL. This substantial staff with an enormous collection required more space. After a large addition to the building in 1968, EPSL finally had adequate facilities.

Further renovation was completed on the library in 1981, and no significant construction has taken place since then.

On January 25, 1984, EPSL was designated a Patent Depository Library by the US Patent & Trademark Office. In 1990, the name changed to Patent and Trademark Depository Library and in 2011 to Patent and Trademark Resource Center. As a PTRC, EPSL houses archive microfilm and DVD copies of the more than 8 million United States patents. In the late 1990s, patents began to be available online. EPSL reference staff provides assistance in searching the myriad of electronically accessible patents.

For many decades, EPSL has supported departments that now make up the A. James Clark School of Engineering and the College of Computer, Mathematical, and Natural Sciences. In October 2008, it assumed support for the College of Agriculture and Natural Resources, and in July 2010 added the School of Public Health. To satisfy this broad scope of studies, EPSL has librarian subject specialists for more than 30 specific subject areas.

The information on this page was provided by "Library Support for Engineering at the University of Maryland" by Eric Lindquist, and also by Jim Miller, Senior Reference Librarian at EPSL. "Library Support for Engineering at the University of Maryland" is on file at the EPSL Administrative Office.

The photographs on this page are courtesy of the University ArchivesUniversity of Maryland Libraries.