Two students outside Osterlin Library (1960s)

Studying in the administration building library (1950s)

Students using the old library in the administration building (1950s)

Our History

Northwestern Michigan College was established in the spring of 1951 with the first classes beginning that fall. From the beginning the library was an integral part of NMC history.

For the first four years, the library was housed in a large second-floor room in the airport building which served as the college’s temporary home. When the college moved to the current campus in the spring of 1955, the library was located in a room in the only campus building. Walter Beardslee, of the Social Science faculty, was appointed part-time library director to manage the growing collection of nearly 4,000 books.

In 1957 NMC increased enrollment to 500 students and appointed a full-time librarian, Bernard C. Rink. The library moved into a larger area in the new administration wing, the number of books increased to nearly 10,000, and planning began for a separate library building. The Osterlin Library building became the first major addition to the NMC campus. A groundbreaking ceremony was held for the new library on June 23, 1960 and it was ready for occupancy in the fall of 1961. The Mark Osterlin Library was named after Dr. Mark Osterlin, a local pediatrician, and a member of the first NMC Board of Trustees. Dr. Osterlin felt very strongly about "the importance of a good library as the hub of a college."

During the 1960s, the Mark Osterlin Library collection tripled in size to over 30,000 volumes. In 1964, it was designated a Federal Depository Library, thus enabling the library to become a repository of United States Government Documents. Library Director Bernie Rink was also instrumental in establishing the Inuit Art collection now housed at the Dennos Museum. Each summer the library hosted an Eskimo Art Sale. Mr. Rink retired in 1987 and was replaced as library director by Douglas G. Campbell.

Many changes occurred in the late 1980s when the old card catalog was converted to an automated version. Librarians began conducting online searches using DIALOG on a dial-up modem and journal databases such as Infotrac began to replace the printed Reader's Guide to Periodical Literature. Access to information increased dramatically through computer technology and the development of the internet.

In 1997, Craig Mulder was hired as the Osterlin Library's third full-time library director. The library book collection was reclassified from the Dewey Decimal System to the more academically-oriented Library of Congress Classification System. Osterlin Library jumped still further into the information age with a more advanced online catalog; and with significant increases in library offerings for online access to books, journals, newspapers, and other electronic resources. 

Summer 2004 brought a major renovation to the entire library building. Maggie Bacon, library director from 2002 to 2009, supervised the renovation of the reference/service desk, library staff offices, book stacks, computer pods, and other library areas. The addition of a library classroom enabled the staff to conduct information literacy sessions in the library and the number of these sessions increased significantly. The collection size also increased to just over 50,000 titles. To reach out to online classes, the library began to offer online or "virtual" reference service.

Tina Ulrich became Osterlin Library's fifth library director in the spring of 2009. Under Ulrich’s leadership, a grassroots movement encouraging Open Education Resource adoption grew at NMC, with over 40 course adoptions and an estimated $1,257,200 saved in textbook costs for students by 2018. During her tenure the library redesigned its website as an integral part of the new web design initiative at NMC and implemented a new web-scale discovery service, allowing patrons to access a breadth of library materials from a single search. The library expanded offerings to include loaner laptops, course texts and a collection of books for leisure reading.

In 2017, the college began plans for a renovation of West Hall. These plans resulted in the Timothy J. Nelson Innovation Center, a 54,000-square-foot, multi-story flexible learning space. The library relocated to the second floor of the building in the spring of 2020 under NMC’s sixth library director, Kerrey Woughter. The new library opened to students for the Fall 2020 semester, with additional safety precautions and expanded remote services (curbside pickup, remote research consultations, computer and wireless hotspot checkouts) in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

* Library history summary pre-1991 was taken from the books Northwestern Michigan College: The First Twenty Years, by Preston N. Tanis; and Northwestern Michigan College: The Second Twenty Years, by Al Shumsky and Carole Marlatt.

Librarians EmerituS

Bernard Rink

  • Bernie Rink, Director: 1957–1987

Doug Campbell

  • Doug Campbell, Director: 1987–1997

Craig Mulder

  • Craig Mulder, Director: 1997–2002

Maggie Bacon

  • Maggie Bacon, Director: 2002–2009

Tina Ulrich

  • Tina Ulrich, Director: 2009–2019
  • Elaine Beardslee
  • Sue Carlson
  • Rochelle Hammontree
  • Becky Mericle
  • Ruth Rague
  • June Thaden