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Olin Library

Related Information

  • Phone: 607-255-4144

John M. Olin Research Library is the main graduate research library for the campus. Its stacks are open to all students, graduate or undergraduate. Attached to Olin is the newly constructed Carl A. Kroch Library.

Building emergencies: 255-5322 (24 hour - utilities maintenance)

See card titled "Libraries" for facilities hours and phone numbers

Construction on Olin Library began in 1959 with the demolition of Boardman Hall, which once stood on the same spot. Boardman Hall, built in 1892, was Cornell's original Law School, before it was moved to its present location on Central Ave. Boardman Hall was designed by William Henry Miller to match the University Library (Uris Library). The stone gargoyle heads on the side wall of Olin which faces the Arts Quad are from Boardman Hall.

The stone faces on the wall that runs along the Arts Quad between Olin and Stimpson were removed from Boardman when it was razed to make way for Olin. According to legend, the stone masons that built Boardman carved these faces in their own likeness. Olin was designed by the architects Warner, Burns, Toan,
and Lunde of New York City, and originally cost $5,660,000. The library is a gift of John M. Olin, an Illinois industrialist and University trustee. Donations for the building's construction costs came from:
Olin-Mathieson Corp. - $3 million
Herber F. Johnson '21 - $500,000
Arthur H. Dean - $250,000
Olin Library opened in 1961.

Olin Library has 7 stories, and the following facilities: stack space for over 2 million books, central library administration and technical services on the second floor, 350 study carrels for graduate students, 100 faculty studies rooms, conference rooms, typing rooms, main card catalog system, map library,
and reading rooms.

Construction was completed in the fall of 1992 on the new Carl A. Kroch Library. The library itself is a 3 story underground expansion to Olin, and designed to hold approximately 1.3 million more volumes. The only visible part of Kroch (pronounced "Crock") are four skylights located between Stimson and Goldwin Smith Halls. This $25 million building was a gift of Carl A. Kroch '35, co-founder of Kroch's & Bretanos' bookstore chain, and designed by the architects Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson, & Abbott of Boston (designers of the underground museum complex at the Smithsonian Institution in Washington DC and the 1989 Law School Addition). The special collections housed in the Kroch are: the Fiske Icelandic Collection, the John M. Echols Collection on South Asia, the Charles W. Wason Collection on East Asia, the South Asia Collection, the Severinghaus Reading Room - a gift of Leslie R. Severinghaus '21, the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections, and the Human Sexuality Collection.

Approximately 80,000 cubic yards of dirt and rock - including 25 vertical feet of bedrock - were blasted away to make room for the Kroch Library. The excavation extended 52 feet below the level of East Ave.