The University of Texas of the Permian Basin
From a library that began over a quarter century ago with women across West Texas collecting books from 29 towns (some arriving in pickup trucks with cattle trailers from small farming communities, and donating their personal collections), The University of Texas Permian Basin's (UTPB) recently-constructed Library/Lecture Center has grown to become the heart of the campus and an archival asset of the community. The storehouse of knowledge reflects local heritage right down to the last brick of its split-faced Cedar Hill Cream limestone quarried just outside of Odessa. It is considered to be one of the best small regional libraries in the western portion of the United States.
The UTPB's J. Conrad Dunagan Library was built to meet the needs of an ever increasing student population (the Fall 2002 enrollment increased 13 percent over the previous year alone). The new facility doubled the campus' library space and offers the largest classroom lecture hall on campus. The center replaces UTPB's smaller, older and non-Americans with Disabilities Act compliant library of 22,000 square feet. Currently, the new library subscribes to more than 3,500 electronic journals, more than 700 print journals and houses more than 200,000 books. It offers more than 750,000 pieces of microfilm and seven microfilm reader-printers. The challenge of preserving West Texas heritage while providing students with all the resources necessary to succeed in a world of constantly evolving technology was realized in the 87,000 square-foot facility.
The community also benefits from this new facility. Public events featuring nationally-known lecturers have been hosted in the large lecture hall. The new facility stores archival material for UTPB as well as for the Permian Basin Historical Society. The center is an asset to UTPB and the community of 20 counties that comprise the Permian Basin region. Recently the Library/Lecture Center was featured in Texas Architect magazine as a highly functional, yet architecturally stunning library. This is a fitting archival edifice to preserve the holdings of the past and keep students in touch with the future.
It all began with a few concerned citizens, some who pulled books from the shelves in their houses to send to a budding university on the West Texas plains. Distributions from the PUF have allowed the Library collection to keep pace with the growing student population. Additional distributions have assisted in computer technology upgrades campus wide. The University of Texas Permian Basin Library/Lecture Center is a witness to past support - and faith in education - as Texans continue to invest in future generations of scholars.