Skip to main content Skip to left-side content

A History: The Robert M. Bird Library

The Robert M. Bird LibraryThe largest health library resource in the state, the Robert M. Bird Health Sciences Library serves a diverse population of health-care professionals. The building also houses administrative offices, student support services and the Graduate College.

The building came about, in great part, through the efforts of Robert M. Bird, M.D., teacher, physician, dean of the College of Medicine from 1970 to 1974 and an uncommonly successful grant writer. Dr. Bird obtained federal matching funds for most of the OU Health Sciences Center buildings completed in the mid-1970s. The proposal he wrote for the library is said to have been his favorite.

A native Virginian, Bird earned a medical degree at the University of Virginia School of Medicine in 1939 and stayed to serve an internal medicine residency under Dr. Stewart G. Wolf. Following military service in the South Pacific, Bird served on the faculty of the Medical College of Cornell University. When Dr. Wolf came to OU in 1952 as chair of the Department of Medicine, his first recruit was Dr. Bird.

Dr. Bird helped hold the center together through very tough budgetary years, securing a promise from Governor-Elect David L. Boren and legislative leaders that resulted in investment funding for medical education beginning in 1975. The action made possible the completion of the campus master plan.

Completed in 1978, the library building brought together library holdings on the OU Health Sciences Center campus and replaced the long-standing medical library located in the old medical school building on 13th Street. In 1991, the building was officially renamed in Bird's honor -- an effort spearheaded by Patrick A. McKee, M.D., and a group of supporters that evolved into the Robert M. Bird Society, which continues as a library support organization.

The library reports to two units at the  OUHSC.  Administratively the library is under the umbrella of the Office of Academic Affairs and Faculty Development.  Academically the library faculty report to the Department of Health Sciences Library and Information Systems, which is the only department that resides within the Graduate College.

Founded in 1921 on the Norman campus, the Graduate College awards master's and doctoral degrees and conducts certificate programs for biomedical scientists, nurses, dentists, pharmacists, physicians and a wide range of allied and public health professions.

As a center of advanced study, research and creative activity, the OU Health Sciences Center Graduate College is committed to helping students develop advanced knowledge in a chosen field and mastering philosophical principles, skills and research methods.