Jesse Lee Rader

Class of
Jesse Lee Rader

Jesse Lee Rader

“J.L. Rader’s name will be linked unforgettably with the university library. To him, books were always more than mere documents. Rather they served as doorways to new ideas, new experiences.”
George L. Cross, 1952


Jesse Lee Rader was born in Missouri and came with his family to Newkirk. He graduated from the University of Oklahoma preparatory school before entering the University as a college student in 1904 and becoming a member of the football team. As a sophomore he began working as a student assistant at the university’s library and graduated in 1908, the same year he took over as Acting Librarian of the school. Rader received his master’s degree in history from OU in 1913 and continued his studies in library science at Earlham College in Indiana and at the University of Illinois. Largely responsible for the state legislature’s appropriation to build the Bizzell Memorial Library and obtaining a number of priceless volumes to the collection, he was the author of several books and founded OU’s School of Library Science. He was awarded the Oklahoma Library Association’s Distinguished Service Medal in 1950.

Fun fact

When Jesse Rader began his career, the University of Oklahoma library was housed in one small room and contained several hundred books. At his retirement in 1952, the Bizzell Library building contained nearly a half-million books.

Oklahoma connections

Rader came with his parents to Newkirk, Oklahoma, in 1894.









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