Hazel Anderson: Librarian extraordinaire

The late Hazel Anderson, L’45, was KU Law’s first full-time librarian.

If you’ve been on the main floor of the library and stopped to peruse the Kansas City Star or the Lawrence Journal-World, you may have wondered about the clock that hangs above the couch and the picture of the woman underneath it. The woman is Hazel Anderson, and she was the first full-time librarian at KU Law.

When classes began at “Old” Green Hall (now called Lippincott Hall) in the fall of 1905, the building had a library. Any staff were listed as “attendants” who may have just been there to monitor the reading room and check books in and out. Reports indicate that the library’s collection grew slowly in the first years of the 20th century, but it wasn’t until a full-time librarian came on board that the law library really blossomed and grew to contain a significant research collection. Hazel Anderson was hired in 1936 and was known as “Andy” to colleagues and students at the law school. While working full- time, she also obtained her LL.B. (Juris Doctor) at KU in 1945.

In the late 1940s, the library was running out of space. Books were kept in classrooms, in faculty offices, in the courtroom and stored in boxes. Andy was very adept at persuading law school deans to increase the budget for the library. Not only was there an increase in the budget, but plans were made for an expansion to accommodate the significant growth of the library’s collection. Completed in 1953, the addition had seven floors of stacks, study carrels and an office for Andy. The library was officially designated the Burdick Memorial Law Library in 1954 in honor of Dr. William L. Burdick.

Even after the addition was built and the library collection continued to grow, Andy was still the only full-time library employee. She had student assistants who worked nights and weekends and may have helped out during the day, but it wasn’t until 1959 that the full-time position of Assistant Law Librarian was created. Attorneys across the state came to know Hazel Anderson as someone they could count on for excellent legal research. She taught a course called Legal Bibliography and was well liked and respected by students and faculty. Andy retired in 1967 at the age of 70. During the three decades she worked in the law library, the collection grew from about 20,000 volumes to approximately 100,000 volumes. The law library and the law school would have been a very different place without her.

Hazel Anderson passed away in November 1974. Classes in the Green Hall we know now were first held in October 1977, so Andy never saw the new building or the Wheat Law Library. Hopefully, she would be proud of the past and present faculty and staff who are carrying on her legacy of dedicated law librarianship. The First District Business and Professional Women’s Club donated a clock in Hazel’s honor in 1977. The lettering reads, “In loving memory of Hazel A. Anderson for her dedication and love for the University of Kansas and its law students.”

Special thanks to Joyce McCray Pearson, former director of the Wheat Law Library, whose article [A Brief History of the University of Kansas School of Law Library, 51 U. Kan. L. Rev. 873 (2003)] provided most of the research for this Hearsay piece.

—  By Melissa Doebele, a library assistant at KU Law

This blog originally appeared in the Fall 2019 Hearsay newsletter.