1898-99 archival records indicate that the institution’s first library was erected that year, with a foundation being laid and 400 donated books collected and organized. During its St. Augustine era, the campus library was first housed in several buildings, mainly Anderson Hall. In spring 1942, the first standalone library facility was erected and named the Jonathan Sewell Library, after a generous benefactor. The Sewell Library was later expanded to include a new wing in 1953. The Miami era brought with it the Library, one of the first buildings at the relocation site to be constructed in 1968. The three-level facility is fittingly named in honor of Nathan White Collier, a philanthropist who was the third president of Florida Baptist Academy, Jacksonville, FL from 1896 – 1918, and Florida Normal and Industrial Institute, St. Augustine, FL from 1918 – 1941 providing leadership excellence for forty-five years. Dr. Collier was responsible for tireless fundraising and advocating; acquiring property and land; increasing enrollment and attracting nationally renowned faculty during the school’s formative years… including J. Rosamond Johnson, who while employed at Florida Baptist Academy assisted his brother, James Weldon Johnson (Dr. Collier’s lifelong friend and college roommate) in composing the Black national anthem, “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” For this reason, the university is recognized today as the birthplace of “Lift Ev’ry Voice and Sing.” Collier’s greatest contribution was to the education and training of African American teachers throughout Florida at the turn of the century.
During that season, the college was so prosperous that by 1901, President Roosevelt selected it as the premier site of African American learning in the state of Florida. Every year during FMU’s Founder’s Day celebration, the Nathan W. Collier Meritorious Service Award is given for exceptional service to the university and outstanding achievements in the community. This award is the highest honor that may be bestowed upon a male by the university.