Sam Hitt


HSL Director (1976-1986)

Professional Accomplishments

  • Medical Library Association President (1974) & Fellow
  • Co-founder and 2nd President – Association of Academic Health Sciences Libraries (1979)
  • Marcia C. Noyes Award from the Medical Library Association (1982)


Mr. Sam Hitt became the Health Sciences Library’s new director in 1976. Prior to coming to UNC, Sam Hitt was Executive Director at the Houston Academy of Medicine-Texas Medical Center Library from 1972-76, and Director of Libraries, University of Connecticut Health Center from 1965-71. He earned his bachelor’s degree in English for the University of Missouri in 1948 and his master’s in Library Sciences from Emory University in 1951.

Sam Hitt remembers the challenges that he encountered as a new director.

Under Mr. Hitt external support for the library was increased, collections were enlarged, new staff positions were created, and services were reorganized and expanded.

In 1978, the Health Sciences Library joined OCLC, taking advantage of their extensive database of machine-readable cataloging records and integrated interlibrary loan network. That same year the Library began working with the Triangle Research Libraries Network (TRLN) to build a local online catalog, BIS, which became available in 1985.


Medline searching room at the HSL

Formal user education services began in 1977-78, reputedly the first in an academic health sciences library to develop curricula and to teach in the health affairs schools. Automated Reference Services, later called Online Search Services, were expanded. All reference staff received extensive training and was available to perform searches for patrons. Formal user education services began in 1977-78 with Ms. Julie (Blume) Nye as coordinator. In the 1980’s user education services were consolidated in the Department of Information Management Education.

The Audiovisual Services Department became a public service unit under Ms. Diane (Foxman) Futrelle in 1980.

In 1979, when Ms. Gloria Manley was Pharmacy Librarian, the collection, staff, and services were integrated into the Health Sciences Library.

In 1982 a major remodeling of the Health Sciences Library was completed. An additional three floors were added, doubling the space. All furnishing and service areas were remodeled.


HSL in 1982

Highlights of the 1982 renovation

  • 830 student carrels available
  • Leisure reading room with food and beverage vending machines
  • Audiovisual center: including AV study rooms of which four were connected to Medical Television for remote playback of video programs
  • 25 group study rooms
  • Public telephones on each floor


In 1986, Mr. Hitt retired after a decade as Director of the Health Sciences Library. He passed away on December 11, 2005, at the age of 84. On July 11, 2007, the library dedicated the Sam W. Hitt Medicinal Plant Gardens as a tribute to Hitt, an avid gardener himself.

“The ultimate goal of the Health Sciences Library in Chapel Hill is to help bring improved health care to the people of North Carolina.” Sam Hitt

HSL Growth during Hitt’s Directorship

1976/77 1985/86
Budget $718,560 $2,503,575
Journal Subscriptions 2,249 4,363
Volumes 154,619 224,973
Staff 12 Librarians, 19 Support Staff, 10 Students 25 Librarians, 27 Support Staff 7 Students


Darling, Louise. “Sam W. Hitt. President, Medical Library Association 1974/75.Bulletin of the Medical Library Association 62.3 (1974): 330-333. Web.

Lefler, Wes. “Sam Hitt to direct Health Science Library.” The Chapel Hill Newspaper, 1 Aug 1976: 8A. Print

Lipscomb, Carolyn E. and Bunting A. “Samuel William Hitt, FMLA, 1921-2005.Journal of the Medical Library Association 94.3 (2006): 366-369 Web.

Last modified: 05/12/20