Get Help

About Clarion's Libraries

Clarion Bell Tower At Night
The Carlson Library, as we know it today, opened in the Spring of 2002. The Bell Tower in the adjoining plaza provides a link with Clarion's past and Seminary Hall's landmark Bell Tower.

Today's Libraries

Built at a cost of $15 million, today's Carlson Library was dedicated on May 23, 2002. The structure houses a collection of more than 400,000 bound books and periodicals, and Suhr Library holds nearly 45,000!

The Libraries share access to over 200,000 e-books and an extensive menu of electronic databases totaling over 40,000 journals and newspapers!

Humble Beginnings

Originally, a large room set aside in Seminary Hall as a library and study area was open from 9 am until noon and 1:30 to 4:30 pm and boasted a collection of over 2,000 volumes.

An early school catalog mentioned Miss Nellie Wetter, the Librarian in charge, and described her as a "lady of rare culture, thoroughly familiar with the library and competent to suggest and instruct. She performs the duties of a Professor of Books and is looked upon as one of the most important members of the faculty."

In 1960, the General State Authority allocated $525,000 (which grew to $1.5 million by completion) for the "new" library building that would have a capacity of 100,000 books and seating for at least 300.

On May 23, 1964, the Library at Clarion State College was dedicated honoring Miss Rena M. Carlson (1898-1990) who retired from the Library in 1963 following 34 years of service to the college and community. In 1931, in her third year at Clarion, Miss Carlson set up the Library in the "Laboratory School." Later, she played a large part in establishing the Library at Clarion's Venango Campus of Oil City which was opened in 1962.

In 1976, a new library building was opened on Venango Campus, named for a local prominent pioneer in the oil industry. A native and life-long resident of Oil City, Charles L. Suhr (1877-1970) left his mark on the town, as he played a key role in expansion and development of the campus.

A huge leap forward for the Libraries came in 1988, when - after nearly a decade of planning - a computerized card catalog was introduced, making all of the Libraries' materials more readily available. The $300,000 system easily held the 1.5 million items owned by the University Libraries.


The mission of the pennwest Clarion University Libraries...

...comprised of the Carlson Library on the Clarion campus and Suhr Library, Venango Campus, is to:

  • assist University undergraduate and graduate students, faculty, staff, and administration in conveniently locating and accessing the University's information resources and those of other sources;
  • develop and provide timely and responsive services, programs, and tools that facilitate translation of information into knowledge and support research, scholarship, teaching, and learning;
  • build, select, and preserve, in cooperation with University faculty, a collection of information resources commensurate with the current and anticipated discipline needs of the University's instructional programs and supportive of teaching and learning processes;
  • contribute to progress of the University and the profession; and
  • participate in addressing the information resource needs of local and rural communities in Pennsylvania.


Last Updated 2/3/23