Volpe Library Exhibit and History

Students checking out books at the Jere Whitson Memorial Library, c. 1950. The Library was closed stacks, meaning library workers retrieved books for patrons.

Did you know Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library turned 30 in 2019? This was not Tech’s first library though. Tennessee Tech University’s first building dedicated solely to being a library was Jere Whitson Memorial Library. Prior to the Jere Whitson Memorial Library, the library operated in the administration building when Tennessee Tech was Dixie College and later when it was Tennessee Polytechnic Institute. The Jere Whitson Memorial Library was named in honor of Dixie College board member Jere Whitson. Jere Whitson was a driving force behind establishing a college in Cookeville, and he donated the land to build Dixie College. The Jere Whitson Memorial Library was located on the Quad in the same building that bears Jere Whitson’s name today.

Front of Jere Whitson Memorial Library, c. 1960s

Soon, however, Tennessee Tech’s enrollment increased and Tennessee Tech outgrew Jere Whitson Memorial Library. Students and librarians alike hoped for a new and improved library that could accommodate Tech’s growing student body. Jere Whitson Memorial Library would become so crowded during peak hours that there were not enough desks and chairs to accommodate all of the students. Thankfully, Tennessee Tech administrators understood that a new library was essential in properly serving the Tennessee Tech student body; construction began on Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library in 1987.

Prior to library book databases, students had to search for resources using a card catalog, which listed books and resources alphabetically by subject.

Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library opened its doors to students for the first time in the summer of 1989. Volpe Library is named after former Tennessee Tech University President Dr. Angelo Volpe and First Lady Jennette Volpe.  Dr. Angelo Volpe was Tennessee Tech University’s seventh president and third longest serving president (1987-2000). The library’s name includes both husband and wife because both were recognized for their contributions and hard work at Tennessee Tech. As of 2019, Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library has been an important part of Tennessee Tech campus life for thirty years.

The library has always been a popular hangout. c. 1950s.


Thousands of students have patronized Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library over the years, and thousands of students visited Jere Whitson Memorial Library before its closing.  Student life at Tennessee Tech University would be much different without the Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library and the Jere Whitson Memorial Library. Tennessee Tech’s libraries have changed a lot over 115 years, but each library has been an integral part of campus that has been dedicated to helping students succeed. How did the library impact your time at Tennessee Tech University?

Volpe Library at Night.

If you are interested in learning more about Volpe Library and its history, visit the exhibit on the main floor of the library or stop by the archives.

About University Archives

Archives and Special Collections resides in Angelo and Jennette Volpe Library on the first floor. The collection includes materials of legal, fiscal and historical significance to Tennessee Tech University and documents the history of the Upper Cumberland Region. The collection includes over 2,500 cubic feet of manuscripts, photographs, and archives from Tennessee Tech as well as surrounding people, businesses, and organizations of the Upper Cumberland. The collection contains books on the history and culture of the Upper Cumberland Region of Tennessee.
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