The Fort Benning community celebrated the opening of the new Maneuver Center of Excellence Donovan Research Library Tuesday. The celebration marked a milestone in the history of the library.
“The (library) has always been a strong source for military history research, and the new facility enhances the library’s strength,” said Doug Campbell, military history instructor for the Directorate of Training.While the building may be new, the library has a long history.
Arthur MacArthur, father of Gen. Douglas MacArthur, donated the first 20 books in 1907 to establish a library for the School of Musketry at the Presidio of Monterey, in Monterey, Calif. The Musketry Library was relocated later from California to Fort Sill, Okla., and became the Infantry School of Arms Library. In October 1918 with a small collection of 1,725 books, the Infantry Library finally relocated to Fort Benning.
Supporters like assistant commandant, Lt. Col. George C. Marshall, who understood the importance of teaching military history and the role academic research played in training future Army officers, ensured that the Infantry School Library expanded over the years. In 1935, the library moved to Building 35 as part of Infantry Hall and post headquarters.
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When the post headquarters relocated to Building 4 in 1964, the Infantry School Library moved with it. In 1980, the name of the library was changed to Donovan Technical Library in honor of William “Wild Bill” Donovan, a Medal of Honor recipient and “father of the Central Intelligence Agency.”
The latest milestone came with BRAC when the Armor School, along with the Armor School Library, relocated to Fort Benning. The Armor School Library joined the MCoE library system and reopened last April on Harmony Church to support the training of Armor Soldiers. In November, the Donovan Library closed the doors on its temporary location in Building 9230.
The library is now located on the first floor of Building 70, east of McGinnis-Wickam Hall.
The new space is designed to showcase the growing collection of more than 50,000 books and 60,000 historical documents. The new facility offers 32 public computers, Wi-Fi service, research databases, and an online Virtual Branch at http://www.benning.army.mil/library.
The Virtual Branch is another step in meeting the needs of the 21st century Soldier and the changing format of Army training. The Virtual Branch provides access to the online catalog, digitized copies of Fort Benning’s historical newspapers, and digitized copies of student papers from World War I through the Vietnam War.
Patrons can remotely download e-books and audio books through databases like OneClick, search for military-specific information using the JANES link, or read current newspapers and magazines such as Army Times.
“The Donovan Library’s mission is crucial to our officer and noncommissioned officer education here at Fort Benning,” said Joanie Horton, communicative skills instructor for the Directorate of Training. “Its collection contains the materials needed for research, study, analysis, and critical thinking for the professional Soldier, and its beautiful new location provides an outstanding location that will enhance the Soldiers’ learning. The staff is knowledgeable and always willing to go the extra mile in meeting the educational needs of our students and the research requirements of the instructors.”
The ceremony for MCoE Donovan Research Library not only celebrated the start of another chapter in its more than 90-year history at Fort Benning, but also served as a welcome to future patrons to discover everything the library has to offer.
For reference inquiries, database passwords or assistance, call 706-545-5661. Or, visit in person or virtually on Facebook.
Sources: The Land and the People by Sharyn Kane and Richard Keeton, Infantry School News, The Bayonet, Various library files.