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DSU Archives: Karl E. Mundt Library

History of the Karl E. Mundt Library

Humble Beginnings as the Campus Laboratory School...

In 1917 the Campus Laboratory (Training) School (Model School), a 120 x 142 ft. one-story brick building with a basement and a red tiled roof, was built. The basement was occupied by the Domestic Science and Art Department along with the lunchroom.  It was an excellent teacher-in-training laboratory facility.

 Campus Laboratory School
Campus Laboratory School, 1928

In 1921, the Model School took on the name Eastern Campus School. The Model School consisted of three departments: The Kindergarten-Primary Department includes the Kindergarten and the First and Second Grades; the Intermediate, the Third, Fourth, Fifth and Sixth grades; and the Junior High consists of the Seventh, Eighth and Ninth grade.

In 1924, the Campus School Junior High School Class moved from it’s old habitat in West Wing (later named Beadle Hall) to the Campus Training School. In 1947 the name of the Eastern Campus School changed to Beadle Campus School.

The 1963 Fire

Campus Laboratory School on Fire
Campus Laboratory School Fire, 1963

On January 19, 1963, the Campus School was destroyed by fire, leaving 350 students without a school. The school had been used to train college students to be teachers in the elementary and secondary school systems. Eastern Breezes was the name of the newspaper for the campus high school and The Blue Jay was the name of the yearbook. In 1968, the Mundt Library was built where the Campus Laboratory School once stood.

After the Fire, 1963

Building of the Library

The Karl E. Mundt Library was constructed in 1967 on the location where the old Campus Laboratory School had once stood. The Mundt Library was named after long-time South Dakota Republican Senator Karl E. Mundt. The dedication was in June of 1969 with many nationally known figures in attendance including former President Richard M. Nixon. 

Karl E. Mundt Library
Karl E. Mundt Library, 1969

In the lower level of the Mundt Library, there are over 1.5 million artifacts and materials that belonged to the senator. The Mundt Library holds the university archives, meeting rooms, and offices with 5 librarians on staff. The main floor of the library contains the reference desk, newspapers, IT services, and a conference room. The second floor contains the bookstacks, an art gallery, classrooms, as well as quiet study areas. The basement holds the University Archives, group study rooms, and archival exhibits.

The Mundt Library can contain 120,000 volumes and is one of the finest facilities in the state. The mural that is located over the entrance of the Mundt Library features early Egyptian hieroglyphics that depict the history of the written word.

Karl E. Mundt

Born in 1900, Karl Earl Mundt was an educator and Republican congressman representing South Dakota in the House of Representatives from 1939-1948 and the Senate from 1948-1973. Mundt graduated with a bachelor's degree in economics from Carleton College in Minnesota. He worked as a teacher and principle at Bryant High School in Bryant, South Dakota in 1923, becoming Superintendent of Bryant schools one year later. In 1928, Mundt taught at Eastern State Normal School (DSU) until 1936 when he began running for congress. After losing in 1936, Mundt was elected to the U.S. House of Representatives in 1938 and later became a senator in 1948. 

As a house representative of South Dakota, Mundt was a primary advocate of the Voice of America (VOA) and in encouraging the U.S. in joining the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Mundt was an active member of the House Un-American Activities Committee (HOAC) during the Alger Hiss hearings and investigations of the film industry (he attempted to have HOAC investigate the Ku Klux Klan but failed). Mundt voted in favor of the Civil Rights Acts, the 24th Amendment, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the confirmation of Thurgood Marshall to the Supreme Court. Mundt served on the Appropriations Committee, Foreign Relations Committee, Government Operations Committee, and Permanent Investigations Subcommittee, and he represented the Senate on the Intergovernmental Relations Advisory Commission. He also chaired the subcommittee for the Army-McCarthy Hearings. His accomplishments include obtaining support for Missouri River projects, establishment of the EROS Data Center, agriculture programs, and interstate highway construction in South Dakota.

DSU's library was dedicated to Mundt in 1969 and currently holds his donated papers. Mundt died in 1974 from heart ailments.

Karl E. Mundt Reading the Evening StarKarl Mundt Reading the Evening Star, 1963