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The idea for the Oberlin Group grew out of conferences of the presidents of 50 liberal arts colleges held at Oberlin in 1985 and 1986 to discuss the role of private colleges in educating the nation's scientists. The colleges represented had produced an exceptional number of graduates who later earned doctorates in scientific fields. One of the purposes of these conferences was to draw national attention to the importance of liberal arts colleges for scientific education and, in so doing, to garner more foundation and government support. Drawing on the science conferences model, the late Bill Moffett, then Director of Libraries at Oberlin, formed a steering committee to plan a meeting of 60 liberal arts college library directors. Members were Bill Moffett (Oberlin) chair, Will Bridegam (Amherst), John Sheridan (Colorado College), Kathy Spencer (Franklin and Marshall), Christopher McKee (Grinnell), Eleanor Pinkham (Kalamazoo), Becky Pollock (Reed), and Richard Werking (Trinity University).

The first meeting was held at Oberlin in November 1986. The group discussed issues of common concern, including the need for more library funding. Library directors from the 50 institutions represented at the science conferences were invited, as well as directors from a number of other selective liberal arts colleges. The first conference was a success and the directors decided to meet every year at a member institution. They became known as the 'Oberlin Group' because of the site of the first meeting.
 
Click here to see the colleges/universities that are part of the "Oberlin Group"