Construction of the New Building

General Library

The construction of the General Library began in 1916 and was completed in 1920. It was dedicated on January 7th, 1920.

The Michigan legislature gave most of the $615,000 cost of the new building.

Albert Kahn (1869-1942), the foremost American industrial architect of his time, designed the new library having models such as Harvard and University of California libraries.

William Warner Bishop, the building’s first head librarian, consulted with Albert Kahn in the design of the building.

University of Michigan Buildings and Grounds Department was the contractor for this building.

The General Library was built on the site of the Old Library and incorporated the two fireproof stacks. Two new book-stacks were added to the building.

Because of the problems with the old building, the new structure was constructed entirely of reinforced concrete, and each floor was isolated from the ones above and below.

The first floor entrance, current North Lobby, was decorated in Pompeian motifs. These decorations along with the original display cases exist today.

Albert Kahn, the Architect of the General Library
The Old Library, Demolition of the Clock Tower
The Old Library Demolition of the Clock Tower
General Library, Construction of 1918
General Library, Main Reading Room under Construction, 1918
General Library after 1920

Library Departments