Library Plans Renovation

renovationAs we welcome students and faculty back to campus, the Washington University Libraries are excited to announce an upcoming transformation of Olin Library. Responding to student and faculty feedback, the project will increase the quantity and variety of seating and research spaces for library users; implement seamless access to Olin from the north, east, and south sides of the building; increase special collections storage capacity; and enhance the accessibility and visibility of specialized research services and special collections.

The Olin Library Transformation, a donor-funded, $18 million dollar project, will create two additional building entrances, on the north and east sides of the building, in addition to a tower structure spanning Level A to Level 3 through Whispers Café. The tower and new pathways on Level 1 will provide unprecedented opportunities for display of special and general collections alike, as well as student and faculty-driven exhibits and other engaging content, making visible the rich collections and services of the Libraries and the work and accomplishments of the university community.

The project will also involve excavating below Whispers Café to create new space on Levels A and B, and an expansion of Whispers that will provide additional seating, study, and social spaces. New and updated spaces on Level A will become a vibrant hub of research expertise and support for faculty, graduate students, and undergraduates, housing the Libraries’ Data & GIS, Instructional Support Services, and Research Services units and a variety of learning environments, tools, and technologies.

The transformation paves the way for the return of some of the Libraries’ special collections from West Campus Library to Olin Library. In seeking to provide top-notch service and resources to Washington University faculty and students as well as independent scholars, the Libraries collect, preserve, and provide robust access to special collections. Bringing more of these distinctive collections to Olin, at the center of the Danforth Campus, will facilitate their use in teaching, learning, and research.

Currently in the planning stages, the Olin Library Transformation project will begin May 23, 2016, following commencement. Construction will continue through summer of 2017, with new and updated spaces expected to be open for fall 2017. Whispers will be closed beginning in summer 2016 until fall 2017, and vending options will be available on Olin Level 1. Olin Library will remain open throughout the renovation.

Additional information will be forthcoming during the fall 2015 and spring 2016 semesters. All questions and feedback are welcome! Please contact Sarah Laaker, manager of library user space planning & campus liaison, at

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