A brief history

Kathleen List, Director of Library Services

In 1975, Ringling College of Art and Design library collections and services filled two rooms on the main floor of Keating Hall--the administration building and residence hall--with a collection of about 10,000 volumes.

In preparation for initial accreditation by the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools (SACS), the Ringling School of Art Library Association, now the Ringling College Library Association [link to rcla website], was founded to assist the institution in expanding its library collections. At the same time, Ringling began planning for construction of a new library facility. The Library moved from Keating Hall to the newly-constructed Verman Kimbrough Memorial Library building in 1980.  Kimbrough Library operations occupied one half of the ground floor and was staffed by five full- and part-time staff.

The completion of Verman Kimbrough Memorial Library was a cause for celebration as Ringling entered its 50th Anniversary year. Photographs of the new building, which housed the Library on the first floor and studio classrooms on the first and second floors, were featured in the 1980-1981 catalogue. 

When it opened, the Kimbrough building served a student body of fewer than 500 and a faculty of 24.  At that time, Ringling offered the BFA and a three-year certificate in one of three majors—Fine Arts; Graphic Design and Illustration; and Interior Design and Space Planning. 

Growth in library collections and services and increases in student enrollment resulted in expansions of the library space in 1990 and 1994 to 12,000 gross square feet. Those renovations involved major changes in the original design of the Kimbrough building, including enclosing of a central atrium.  Studio classrooms and faculty offices still occupy the second floor of the building, which was not constructed for the load-bearing weight of library stacks.  Remodeling of a number of public areas was completed in 2007. 

Ringling College owes much to the Library’s name sake, Verman Kimbrough. Ringling’s President for forty years, he was its leader, visionary, sustainer and inspiration.  During his forty-year career as President, Verman Kimbrough also raised a family and served the community as superintendent of schools and mayor of Sarasota.  His determination and selfless dedication to a young art school is embodied in the preeminent art and design college he nurtured and the Library that bears his name.

Ringling College of Art and Design is a private, not-for-profit, fully accredited college offering the Bachelors of Fine Arts degree in 13 disciplines: Advertising Design, Computer Animation, Digital Filmmaking, Fine Arts, Game Art & Design, Graphic & Interactive Communication, Illustration, Interior Design, Motion Design, Painting, Photography & Digital Imaging, Printmaking and Sculpture, and a Bachelor of Arts degree in the Business of Art & Design. Located on Florida’s Gulf Coast, the picturesque 47-acre campus now includes more than 100 buildings, and enrolls 1,320 students from 46 states and 46 countries. It is recognized as being among the best and most innovative visual arts colleges in the United States as well as a leader in the use of technology in the arts. www.Ringling.edu