Mabee Learning Center opens


The first library on the Oklahoma City campus was located where the Registrar’s Office is now. By the early sixties, wiith the growth of the curriculum and number of students and the expansion to a four-year college, it was evident that more library space would be required.

President James O. Baird thought that the college should not build just another library in the sense of a place where books could be housed and used. Some libraries around the country were beginning to use innovative approaches like computers and dial-access to audiotapes as resources. So he commissioned Dr. Stafford North, who was then the Academic Dean, to study what might be possible for Oklahoma Christian.

After much investigation, Dr. North and his team decided that Oklahoma Christian should make a bold move into “educational technology.” This would involve rethinking the methods used in all classes, providing a much wider range of learning opportunities than had been available. Among these new learning methods, they reported, should be an easy access to audiotaped materials so that students could listen to audiotapes of lectures, hear music being performed, poetry being read, interviews with major political and religious figures, and the ability to do exercises guided by the voice of the teacher on audiotape.

As result of this study, Oklahoma Christian was able to get funding for a three-story Learning Center that would house the library on the first floor and allow the second and third floors to house 700 carrels, one for each student at the school. Each carrel was a small study booth that had a tabletop for work, a locker for leaving materials, and a telephone-type dial and headset that allowed students to choose from 136 different tape recordings that would be available at the same time. Many teachers developed creative ways to use this capacity for students to hear audiotapes.

After the Learning Center opened in the fall of 1966, the concept of providing every student with his/her own study booth equipped with dial-access to audio tapes drew a great deal of attention. Time magazine did a story, national television covered the event, Esquire magazine reported on what was happening, and a host of articles appeared in educational journals.

Within a few years, about a fifth of the colleges and universities in the United States and some from foreign countries had come to the campus to view the new concept firsthand. Dr. North and others appeared at many educational conferences to tell what was happening with learning “Oklahoma Christian style.”

While the time came that dial-up audio tapes was no longer on the cutting edge and the equipment for doing this became obsolete, the development of the Mabee Learning Center created an interest in the search for the best ways to promote learning at Oklahoma Christian. As a result of this initial project, OC has always sought to be on the cutting edge.