A rendering of the renovated first floor and new service point in Olin Library, seen from the main entrance.

Services to continue during Olin Library renovations

By 2025, a major renovation is set to transform the iconic 62-year-old Olin Library into a “crossroads of learning and discovery on the Arts Quad,” said Elaine Westbrooks, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian.

The renovation involves the first floor and basement levels of the library, which was built in 1961. Other areas of the library, including the stacks on upper floors, will remain the same.

To kick off the first phase of construction, Olin Library will be closed for about four weeks, from December 18 to January 12. Except for winter break, the library’s services – including book loans, article-scanning requests, and remote consultations with librarians – will continue uninterrupted. “Our users can count on consistent library operations while the renovations are taking place,” Westbrooks said.

In addition – within the co-located Carl A. Kroch Library – the Asia Collections on levels 1 and 1B will be accessible to users by appointment only, and the Rare and Manuscript Collections on level 2B will be accessible only to researchers with appointments. The Hirshland and Sillerman exhibition spaces will be closed.

Items from Olin and Kroch Asia’s circulating collections can be requested at the Uris Library service desk near the McGraw Tower entrance. Through the online catalog, these materials can also be requested for pickup at other library locations on campus.

The Olin Library renovation is part of Cornell University Library’s continuing efforts to improve spaces and services. “As the landscape of higher education rapidly evolves, our library strives to always be that wonderful place that inspires learning, curiosity, belonging and interdisciplinarity,” Westbrooks said.

Olin Library improvements include:

  • A single, consolidated service point on the first floor;
  • Three private rooms for research consultations with librarians;
  • A dedicated area for Cornell’s anthropology collection and teaching labs;
  • Updated bathrooms on the basement level;
  • An added public staircase from the first floor to the basement level;.
  • Modern lighting and several comfortable seating options on the first floor and basement study areas; and
  • An entrance vestibule directly opening out on to the Arts Quad.

Overall, the renovations will enhance accessibility and create clearer sightlines and wayfinding for patrons, said Jon Ladley, facilities director for Cornell University Library.

“The crux of the project is to create more and better-connected user space,” he said. “We’re literally tearing down walls, opening up the space, so patrons can get to the resources they need.”

Olin’s original mechanical systems will also be replaced, Ladley said. “Maybe not as glamorous but really important, we need to replace the mechanical systems in the sub-basement that serves the basement and first-floor level.” he said. “They’re over 60 years old.”

Construction updates and changes to services will be posted on Cornell University Library’s Space Projects blog, and readers can subscribe to this blog to receive email notifications.

Media Contact

Abby Kozlowski