Life in an Archive: Records of a Library Champion

Archived Photographs and Stories Preserve the Legacy of Dr. Archie McNeal

by Koichi Tasa, University Archivist

Dr. Archie McNeal, director of the Libraries who served from 1952 to 1979, oversaw the completion of the Otto G. Richter Library.

Dr. Archie McNeal, director of the Libraries who served from 1952 to 1979, oversaw the completion of the Otto G. Richter Library.

Throughout Archives Month, University of Miami Libraries (UML) archivists have been sharing stories conveying the importance of access to archives and the unique and historical materials preserved in them. The University Archives is a resource that houses photographs, yearbooks, student newspapers, administrative records, memorabilia, and many other materials pertaining to UM history.

Weeks ago I exchanged a heartwarming correspondence with a community member who had found an Otto G. Richter Library brochure from the 1960s while going through family albums. She wondered if we’d be interested in adding it to our collections. She also mentioned being the niece of the late Dr. Archie L. McNeal, the first director of the University Libraries who served from 1952 to 1979. With more than thirty-five years having passed since Dr. McNeal’s retirement, the donor didn’t expect anyone currently at the Libraries to remember her uncle’s name, yet I knew the name quite well.

In fact, the important legacy of Dr. McNeal and his service to the University is one that is well preserved at the Archives: Dr. McNeal led the Libraries through an important phase of collection development, during which the Libraries’ holdings grew from 273,000 volumes to approximately 1.4 million volumes. He oversaw the construction of the Richter Library, completed in 1962, and is also well known for leading a number of important scholarly research initiatives.

Searching for Dr. McNeal’s name led quickly to a number of links to online records from his tenure, including archived articles from The Miami Hurricane describing some of the library programs initiated under his leadership and iconic photos from the 1950s through 1970s featuring Dr. McNeal in action at the library (such as the ones in this post). I was honored to be able to provide Dr. McNeal’s niece with these records that document his important work at the Libraries, and am happy to share them with you as a part of Archives Month. Check out more photos of this former director in UML’s Digital Collections for a glimpse into the early years of the library and an important time of growth for our University.


Dr. Archie McNeal and Jay F. W. Pearson, President of the University of Miami [n.d.]

Behind-The-Scenes Photo of the Archives

Processing Room View, October 2014

Please take a look at a behind-the-scenes panorama photo of the Processing Room taken by my colleague last week. The space is located on the 8th floor of Richter Library in a secured section, which is shared by the Special Collections and the University Archives. The space is constantly jam packed with historical materials being processed with staff and student assistants working on them. It is the most time-consuming but crucial step for us to make our collections accessible.

Currently, the University Archives is processing a very large, significant collection of historical images and university publications donated by the University Communications last year. This is an exciting new addition to our collections, which will allow us to research news and events of the University took place from the 1980s to early 2000s. We anticipated completion of the project sometime in spring 2015.

Football Trading Cards Donated

Football Trading Cards

Last week, I received a surprise package from a librarian in Denver. He was kind enough to send us 283 football trading cards of NFL players who are former University of Miami students from the early 1980s to early 2000s. Also enclosed were 4 ticket stubs from the Michigan vs. Miami game held at the Michigan Stadium on September 8, 1984.

These eye-catching trading cards are great examples that show strength of the University of Miami’s athletic program. They will be popular items for the visitors to the UM Libraries and at our future exhibitions.

The University Archives welcomes donations like this one from colleagues, alumni, and friends of the University of Miami.

UML Renovation Update: Temporary Access Procedures to Off-Site Materials

Construction-Alert200x200The University of Miami Libraries (UML) is beginning the first phase of renovations to Brockway Hall, a historic space on the first floor of Richter Library that will serve as the new home of Special Collections and University Archives.

Starting April 2, we will be relocating materials that are currently shelved at Brockway Hall to UML’s off-site storage facility in Miami Lakes. This will result in limited access to little-used materials stored off-site (as indicated in the catalog) from our general collections as well as those from Special Collections, University Archives, and the Cuban Heritage Collection. Further details will soon follow on temporary procedures during each project phase for requesting these materials. Stay tuned for these updates on our website.

We will also be launching a website in the coming weeks that will provide more information about the new space and include detailed updates on this project.

In the meantime, please contact us with any questions pertaining to near-future use of off-site materials. (Please note that this project will only affect access to materials that are stored off-site. For materials housed on-site at our libraries and collections, regular access will apply throughout the project.)

  • For questions about UML’s off-site collections, please contact Cheryl Gowing, Associate Dean, Library Information Systems & Access, at or 305-284-6018.
  • From the Cuban Heritage Collection, please contact Meiyolet Mendez, CHC Librarian, at or 305-284-5854.
  • From Special Collections, please contact Cristina Favretto, Head of Special Collections, at or 305-284-3247.
  • From University Archives, please contact Koichi Tasa, University Archivist, at or 305-284-8129.

For general inquiries about this project, please contact

We thank you for your patience during this time, and look forward to updating you on this exciting project.