From the birth of the University of Michigan in 1837 the creation and maintenance of a library was given high priority by the Legislature and the Board of Regents. Audubon's Birds of America, the library's first purchase, was acquired in 1838 and within a couple of years the library’s collection had grown to over 3,400 volumes.
No separate library building yet existed and the books were housed in a variety of different locations from the Law Building to professor's houses. In 1883 the first library building was completed but the space for the collections and for use of the collections soon became insufficient.
A new building, designed by renowned architect Albert Kahn, was completed in 1920. For the next 50 years the collections continued to grow in size and diversity and an eight story addition to the Library was built in 1970, the first high rise on central campus. In 1971 the two adjoined library buildings were named the Harlan Hatcher Graduate Library.
Click on decades from the timeline at the top of the page for more information.
Click here for a printable, PDF version of the History pages.