The Washington University Libraries are a powerful network of academic resources featuring 12 libraries (10 on the Danforth Campus, one at West Campus, one at the Medical School); vast print and electronic collections; and expert librarians whose first priority is helping students and faculty find the information they need.

The center of this rich network is John M. Olin Library, a 197,000-square-foot research library housing humanities, social sciences, engineering, and special collections; and extended-hours study space; reading rooms; lounges; and small-group studies. The other libraries house collections serving specific departments or schools. See the Library Guide for more information.

To schedule an Olin Library orientation or tour, contact Rudolph Clay at (314) 935-5059. For self-guided tours, come to the Help Desk for a guide or use this mobile-friendly tour of Olin Library. For departmental or school libraries, contact each library directly.

Vision: Curation, Collaboration, and Community

The vision for the libraries is now captured by three words: Curation, Collaboration and Community. Curation—organizing and maintaining collections—is at the heart of our bibliographic traditions. Collaboration speaks to our desire to partner and engage in the dynamic academic environment. By including Community, we focus our attention on both the work environment, our library community and beyond.

It is a leadership priority of the libraries to balance traditional elements of the libraries’ mission of providing access to books and print or electronic resources, expertise in research, and quiet contemplative spaces for students and scholars to study with the emerging elements of digital archiving, instructional technology, data visualization and data-intensive scholarship, enriching our special collections, collaborating with external organizations, and providing a collegial social environment for student exploration and learning. Tension among these elements of our mission is to some degree inevitable, and we will need to be vigilant to ensure that the libraries’ full story is heard in all our communications and reflected in our decisions.

The Strategic Plan is the management framework we use to propel our vision into action. It’s our way of making sure that we focus on the most important priorities, and stay efficient, agile and responsive in a rapidly changing academic environment.

An overview of each of the objectives can be found in the Washington University Libraries 2017 Strategic Plan. For other questions or concerns, please contact: Carol Mollman, Assessment Coordinator and Chair of the Strategic Plan Committee at mollman@wustl.edu.


The University’s original library, located in Ridgley Hall, was built in 1907. By 1946, the University Library owned 46,000 volumes and consisted of 14 school and departmental libraries in addition to Ridgley. The larger and modern Olin Library opened in 1962 and was renovated in 2004. In spring 2018, the Olin Library Transformation project will be complete with new spaces and resources for learning, research, and teaching.

Newer library facilities include the Kenneth and Nancy Kranzberg Art & Architecture Library, which opened in 2006 and serves art, architecture, art history, and archaeology. The Ronald Rettner Earth & Planetary Sciences Library opened in 2005.