October 13, 2021

Jim Dan Hill Library celebrates 50 years of serving the campus, community

On the southwest corner of the University of Wisconsin-Superior campus sits the Jim Dan Hill Library. While the stately building perfectly accompanies the other facilities, it stands apart in its wealth of available resources to both the campus and community.

“We’re back to a full schedule of events,” said Dr. Jamie White-Farnham, director of the Markwood Center for Learning, Innovation and Collaboration (CLIC) and writing program professor. “We recently had a 50th anniversary open house. We’re celebrating not only the building itself, but the namesake. It was great to look back at not only the legacy of Jim Dan Hill, but also how the library has changed.”

This fall, in recognition of the library’s 50th anniversary – an event delayed due to COVID-19 – the facility, in partnership with a grant from the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, hosted a three-part speaker series for the campus and community titled “The Data Deluge: Privacy in a Connected World.”  


The library’s namesake, Jim Dan Hill, served as president of the Wisconsin State Teacher’s College at Superior, now UW-Superior, from 1931 through 1964, with periods of leave for military duty. Born in Texas, Hill was a teacher, historian, author and education administrator. He served in the Navy during WWI, in the field artillery during WWII and in the Wisconsin National Guard. Hill was instrumental in advocating for the library, which opened in 1969.

While the facility kept pace with the times, the most notable came in 2009 when the Jim Dan Hill Library received extensive renovations. During that project, multiple windows were added, and the first-floor area was opened to be more inviting. Fireplace areas were also added on the first and second floors with multiple spaces to examine materials.

Those updates have only aided the Jim Dan Hill Library in becoming a hub for students and for a wealth of campus and community events.

“During last year when we were mostly online, the thing that became most important for students were the study rooms,” said White-Farnham. “We had 1,500 reservations for the fall and spring because students could take their Zoom classes there and that became a mainstay that we didn’t totally anticipate, but we were happy to be able to provide for our students.”


The library sustained substantial damage in 2012 when it – like much of Superior – was impacted by a devastating flood. Since then, the library’s emphasis has shifted to acquiring digital resources alongside physical ones. This foresight enabled the library to continue serving students and the community during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We were far ahead of the curve because of the emphasis on getting electronic resources,” said White-Farnham. “So, by the time the pandemic hit – although we didn’t know it was coming – we were so rich with electronic resources that we didn’t have to do a big scramble like many other colleges did.”  

The library currently has 82,000 physical volumes and access to over 500,000 e-books.

“The flood involved 250,000 volumes and we didn’t try to replace all of them,” said White-Farnham. “We started by building a new collection. Because it is so new, we are one of the most highly inter- loaned libraries in the UW System because it is a really good collection.”


Residents of Wisconsin may join the Community User Program to use library collections and resources.

The Jim Dan Hill Library has several extensive collections such as the Mindfulness & Well-Being Collection, which includes a vast array of books, DVDs, journals and other resources designed to teach and enhance personal or professional well-being, the Graphic Novels Collection includes more than 250 volumes published by mainstream and alternative presses, selected for both entertainment and educational purposes and as a selective depository library in the Federal Depository Library Program (FDLP) and the Wisconsin Document Depository Program (WDDP), the library provides access to more than 200,000 electronic documents and an additional 3,000 print documents published by the federal and state government. With funding provided by the Undergraduate Differential Tuition for Library Initiatives, the library has partnered with Brodart's McNaughton fiction program to offer a rotating collection of current popular fiction from a wide range of genres.

One of the most substantial resources is the maritime collections, which includes more than 7,000 ship files, files for Great Lakes vessels, hundreds of blueprints and technical drawings, shipping news articles from various Great Lakes publications, ship log books, associated record books and much more.

The library also includes tax information from the City of Superior that date back to the early 1900s.

“People come in to do their genealogy research,” said White-Farnham. “They are usually interested in copies of the student newspaper and all the yearbooks. The library is also the records management entity for the entire university and all of our administrative records are stored here.”

Recently, the Jim Dan Hill Library has become home to the Markwood Center for Learning, Innovation and Collaboration (CLIC). The center supports the UW-Superior liberal arts mission by being more than simply a building. It serves as stewards of resources that support the scholarly pursuits of students, instructors, faculty, staff and the larger community. Another goal has been to create learning opportunities for student engagement, quality teaching and learning across all modalities and varied partnerships that extend beyond the walls of the university. The center offers a welcoming environment through equitable access for a diverse community while fostering digital and information literacy, academic integrity, curiosity, creativity and independence.

The Markwood CLIC also serves as a bridge to success and equity by helping instructors create innovative teaching and learning experiences. It promotes accessible technology, opportunities for intellectual development, inclusive instruction and support in both academic and personal pursuits. The Markwood CLIC also provides a sense of community, resources services, and an open environment to foster lifelong learning.



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