The Library is first documented in a May 1, 1889 report requesting more books for the Library. After the university moved from New Orleans to Scotlandville in 1914, the book collection was housed in a bookroom on the top floor of the Academic Building. Bessie Sowell who served from 1928-1929 was the first person recorded to be responsible for the overseeing of this collection. In 1914, the library contained 2,800 volumes and 5,400 pamphlets, valued at $4,200. This location served as the Library until 1940. A bulletin called Library Leaves informed faculty and the student body about new acquisitions.

In 1929,Camille Stivers Shade became Southern University's first professional librarian. She served as the Head Librarian for 42 years and devoted three more years of service to the Library as Selective Dissemination of Information (SDI) librarian. Under her leadership, the Library grew from one room to a two-story library building that was completed in 1941. It seated 277 readers. Within two years the building's collection contained 20,000 volumes and 10,000 government documents. In 1959, an addition was made to the building, doubling the size of the reading room.

The Library changed with the times to meet the needs of the students and faculty. In 1966, the Library began converting its collection from the Dewey Decimal Classification System to the Library of Congress Classification System. Mitchell Pouncy, who was an employee from September 1955 to July 1996, was one of the catalogers who began the conversion project. In 1968, during the Civil Rights movement, the Black Heritage Collection (now the Shade Collection) was formed. From 1969 to 1974, Edward Fontenette, the first and only male to head the library, served as director. Adele Jackson, served as Acting Director during the 1974-1975 school year.

Georgia W. Brown assumed the position of Director of Libraries in 1975 and held that post until 1992. Under Brown's leadership, the present facility, an $11 million four-story structure, was completed and opened in 1984. It is located across the street from the former library building. In a 1987 dedication ceremony the building was officially named the John B. Cade Library, commemorating John Brother Cade, a former dean and archivist of Southern. The building has a seating capacity of 1,400. During the last two decades, the library has been transformed from a collection of print and manual materials to one that includes membership in SOLINET, an online card catalog using NOTIS, a LAN (Local Area Network) connecting the library's CD-ROM databases (30 and growing); as well as, access to the Internet. Emma Bradford Perry, assumed leadership in September 1992 and is the first Dean of Libraries. Under her leadership the library has become even more technologically sophisticated through the establishment of a systems and technology office and funded grants.


Brown, Georgia, "A Century of Service: A Legacy to Generations", Jaguar Yearbook, 1982.

Vincent, Charles. A Centennial of Southern University and A & M College, 1880-1980, 1981.

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