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Development of the Library Buildings
Cross section view of the Library
The image above is a cross-section of the library complex in 1964. It was created by Albert Kahn Associated Architects and Engineers as a part of their proposal outlining the construction of the South Stacks.

The evolution of the Graduate Library has lasted over a century.

The north building of the current Graduate Library was built in 1920 by Albert Kahn. The building was constructed around the metal stacks of the previous library building that was built in 1883, known as the General Library. Kahn was praised for his ability to construct a large building at a low cost, thanks to his experience in factory construction. (Kahn & Associates also built Hill Auditorium and the Natural Sciences Building). The north building was built primarily using reinforced concrete - an innovation of the time - and was therefore safe from fire while allowing plentiful natural light. [20]

The construction of the South Building in 1970 was accomplished according to three specific principles. First, the new addition had to be flexible to allow the possibility of using any area in the building interchangeably for book storage, readers, carrels, or staff work space. Second, the addition could not detract from the buildings surrounding the addition (especially the president's house and Clements Library). And third, the new building could not interrupt the flow of east-west pedestrian traffic (especially from the Union to the Undergraduate Library). [9]

The development of the library continues today in a variety of ways. The Friends of the Library funded a project that improved the aesthetic appeal of the Information Center on the second floor of the library through the addition of artwork and library-specific, inspiring quotations. Currently, the building is undergoing extensive rewiring to meet the demands of the digital age.

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