Libraries and Hours Ask a Librarian

Olin & Uris Libraries

Olin: Closed
Uris: Closed

A Library Is Born

From left to right:
Cornell University. The Campus of Cornell University, Ithaca, NY, 1951. A 1950s Arts Quad map showing that Tower Road and Central Avenue intersect and are still open to traffic. Across from the “Main” (Uris) Library is Boardman Hall. Part of the Cornell University Library map collection.
Boardman Hall During Demolition,ca. 1959. Various stages of demolition of Boardman Hall. Images from the University Adrchives. Courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.
Cornell University. Map of Cornell University, 1961. A map of the Arts Quad shortly after the opening of John M. Olin Library. Note that Tower Road and Central Avenue no longer intersect, and the zone around Olin Library has become a pedestrian area. Part of the Cornell University Library map collection.
Olin Library. Early Years. From bottom left: Olin Library during a late phase of construction; Olin Library in 1961; birds-eye view of Olin Library with Central Avenue curving left and going behind Uis Library, ca. 1961.
Images from the University Archives. Courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections. 

William Henry Miller designed Boardman Hall as well as structures such as Uris Library with the McGraw Tower, A.D. White House, and numerous other local buildings.  Upon its completion in 1892 it housed the College of Law and the Departments of History and Government after the College of Law transferred to Myron Taylor Hall in 1931.  In 1958-59, Boardman Hall was torn down to make room for the new research library.It took seven years of planning and $5.7 million to build Olin Library, the first library specifically designed as a research facility. In the words of Anne R. Kenney, Carl A. Kroch University Librarian: “Although there were critics of the new building, dubbed a ‘vulgar modernization’ by the former dean of architecture, it became extremely popular…Today Olin remains a vital place for research and study, with between 3,000 and 11,000 visitors a day at peak academic times. The mind boggles at what the next 50 years will bring, but I’m betting Olin Library will still be a place that draws those who value the life of the mind.”

From left to right:
Map Librarian Barbara Berthelsen in the “Main” Library, ca. 1961. University Archives. Courtesy of the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.
Olin Library Map Room, 2011.

Before the map collection moved to Olin Library in 1961, the Library held 46,000 maps crammed into very small spaces in the “Main” (now Uris) Library. Today, the Maps and Geospatial Information Collection is housed in the Map Room, located on the lower level of Olin Library. Currently, there are nearly 400,000 maps, 3,200 books and atlases, 500 CD-ROMS, databases, and other digital materials in the collection. The images below show the Map Room then… and now.