In honor of International Women’s Day, we recognizes the achievements of M. Belle Sweet, the library’s first professional librarian.
Miss Sweet was appointed head librarian in 1905 at the age of 26. She served in her position for approximately 16 months before a devastating fire consumed the University’s administration building and wiped out nearly all of the Library’s 12,000 volume collection.
Following the fire, Belle Sweet immediately began a campaign to rebuild the Library’s contents. Borrowing a typewriter, Miss Sweet wrote 340 letters to university supporters, authors and publishers asking for donations to help recreate the lost library. The success of Belle Sweet’s letter writing campaign provided a foundation for a new collection for the University of Idaho Library. Due to her efforts and the generosity of University of Idaho friends and benefactors 1300 books were donated, 250 pamphlets were received and $1866.35 was raised. Belle Sweet served as head librarian from 1905 to 1948 under the administrations of seven University presidents. In her 43 years as head librarian, Belle Sweet helped to build what is now the largest library in the state of Idaho.
Photos:Gem of the Mountains 1907, PG 1-51-24a