Lydia Olson was born in Ishpeming Michigan on January 3, 1880. She graduated from Marquette High school. Olson began her studies at Northern Normal School in 1899 and graduated valedictorian of the first class of Northern Normal School two years later.
She returned to Marquette in the spring of 1908 to become the librarian at Peter White Library. Six months later she became the librarian at Northern and held that position until her retirement in 1941. She served as librarian for 33 years and at that time was the longest serving librarian at Northern.
When Lydia Olson retired in 1941, the library collection consisted of 35,256 books in two reading rooms in Kaye and Longyear Hall, which combined could accommodate 176 students.
The first library building was completed in 1951 and dedicated to Lydia Olson. In 1969 when the Learning Resources Center was completed, her name moved along with the library to its current location.