In October of the same year, the American College for Girls was opened in Gedikpaşa, again with funding by American missionaries. Julia Rappleye, together with Mrs. Bowker and Caroline Borden, the college moved to Üsküdar in 1876. Later, Mary Mills Patrick would become headmistress, remaining in the position until 1924. In her memoirs Borden points out that the school library, as a major contribution to education, consisted of a few hundred books. Borden donated her entire fortune, possessions, and books to the Girls’ College. These women believed that women’s education was of paramount importance in a thoroughly male-dominated world. In her book about the college and Mary Mills Patrick, whom he describes as an ‘educational ambassador’, Hester Donald Jenkins says that the Girls’ College was accorded many privileges in the period of Abdulhamid II, indeed was even exempted from paying taxes. There were restrictions however on the subject of books: “All of the books that came through the customs, unless under special protection, were censored and often confiscated. No books were to enter Turkey that mentioned the Ottoman Empire or the Mohammedan Religion … Even poetry and drama were not safe. From a set of Shakespeare’s plays were taken Hamlet and another play because of slighting reference to the Turk, and Julius Caesar because it told of the assassination of a ruler. Dante’s Divine Comedy was taboo because of the place the poet assigned to the Prophet, and Milton could not be admitted because he told the story of the great rebellion.” In 1914 the Girls’ College settled in Arnavutkoy together with its possessions and books. Only four buildings were as yet completed. The inauguration ceremony was held in the conference hall (now the library) of the central building, Gould Hall. Halide Edip Adivar, a 1901 alumna, made a rousing speech. The then library was adjacent to this meeting hall. Meanwhile, thanks to the determined efforts of C.F. Gates, the school’s headmaster for many years the Van Millingen library and building were opened on the Hisar campus of the Men’s College in April 1932 with assistance from Carnegie Foundation. Alexander Van Millingen, for whom the library was named, had been born in Istanbul and was employed as a history professor at the College from 1897 to 1915, where he produced several works on Byzantine history. He donated his book collection and a thousand pounds sterling to the library. Such was the founding of that legendary library, the memory and impact of which have been so great on the men students. Today this building is the administration building of Bogazici University, and the library has moved to the new North campus.As of 1957, the Robert College Library had 111,598 books and 214 periodicals, and the Girls’ College Library 27,163 books and 108 periodicals, according to the Turkiye Kutuphaneleri Rehberi (Guide to Libraries in Turkey) published by the Turkish National Library in that year.
Through a donation made in the name of Anne Taylor Case in 1963 the library of the Arnavutkoy Girls’ College in Gould Hall was expanded, spreading in two floors. This library was a space where women students, engrossed in the books and magazines or listening to long-play albums, spent unforgettable moments with the magnificent Bosphorus view as a backdrop.
Robert College at Hisar campus was transformed into Bogazici University in 1971. The Academy boys, middle school had been closed in 1961, were transferred to the Arnavutkoy campus where Robert College would henceforth be a co-educational institution. The books belonging to the university/college level remained on the Hisar campus, while the high school level books of the Robert College Academy were moved to Arnavutkoy. The Girls’ College middle school library, which had started in Bingham Hall in 1925, was merged with the high school library in 1992.
The library of Robert College, which continued to offer co-educational middle and high school level education on the Arnavutkoy campus, pursued its efforts for renewal and expansion. A series of meetings and plans that began in 1989 and continued without interruption finally bore fruit in 1996 when the library received its present form. The old conference hall-cum-theater, which to the horror of many alums had been turned into a basketball-volleyball court with the arrival of the men’s high school students, was incorporated into the library, which could now expand over a broader area following construction of a new theater and gymnasium. Headmaster Harry A. Dawe has described the transformation the school and library underwent in those years in the school magazine: “Although buildings are not the essence of a school, there is no doubt that human activity is strangely influenced by the shape, quality, and relationship of the buildings in which it takes place. Churchill’s comment, ‘We shape our buildings; afterwards they shape us,’ is very apt for schools. Therefore the liberation of space in the old buildings, brought about by the new ones, gave us the chance to do some ‘shaping’- which afterwards would shape us and the school’s program.” The American International Development Program and the Hisar Educational Foundation both made significant contributions to this development. Likewise the school administration, board of trustees, and alumni association have always supported the library. When the middle school was closed under Turkey’s new eight-year education law in 1997, the library books at this level were distributed to various other schools in Turkey. With 49,600 books, 68 CD-ROMs, 474 VCDs, DVDs 77 CDs, 180 periodical publications and six web-based databases the Robert College Library, which occupies an area of 750 square meters today with seating for 90, serves a total of 971 students, as well as all the employees and alumni of the school. Users are also provided with 22 computers with Internet connections. The library, which boasts a photocopy machine, a scanner, and two printers, one of them color, has a classroom for accommodating 24 students. Despite its myriad transformations over the years, the library ha never ceased to be a warm, pleasant environment for learning, insofar as the school has always believed that a strong library is synonymous with rigorous education. The library has been an integral part of the school curriculum in every period of its history. In her memoirs of her student years from 1924 to 1928, Belkıs Halim Vassaf says that she usually spent her free time at the college in the library. Describing the classes, she writes: “The teachers didn’t just sit on the podium and lecture. At the same time they also recommended numerous books. Every class had its textbook, but besides that, let’s say when we were discussing William James in psychology, they always recommended that we read more in-depth books or articles on the subject. And we found those either in the library or in the magazines and newspapers in the reading room." Today we are proud to house 488 works by our graduates which is a collection that keeps growing.
As the intellectual heart of the school, the Robert College Library Media Center continues to encourage reading, provide access to reliable information, and install a lifelong love of reading for knowledge in students, faculty, and alumni alike. Let us conclude with an appropriate line by Prospero from Shakespeare’s The Tempest : “… my own library with volumes that / I prize above my dukedom.”
 Hester Donald Jenkins, An Educational Ambassador to the Near East: The Story of Mary Mills Patrick and an American College in the Orient (New York : Fleming, 1925), 117. Harry A. Dawe, “Where is the Orta?” RC Quarterly no. 9 (Winter 1992), 10. Belkıs Halim Vassaf, der. Gündüz Vassaf, Annem Belkıs (Istanbul : Iletişim, 2000), 118.