After seven years of planning and two years of construction, the John M. Olin Library opened its doors at 7:50 a.m. on Monday, February 6, 1961. It was named for industrialist John M. Olin (Class of 1913), who contributed $3 million to its construction. The $5.7 million building was created to address overcrowded facilities at the Main Library (now Uris Library).
Originally slated to open in the fall of 1960, the project faced a number of delays, including a record snowstorm that hampered workers trying to move books and other materials from the Main Library. The structure had a modern feel for its time, but it was designed to be architecturally harmonious with neighboring structures. The new library included room for 2 million volumes. Olin also boasted faculty and graduate study space, coin-operated typewriters, an air-conditioned Special Collections area, and a sculpture courtyard.
In June 1960, university trustees held a cornerstone-laying ceremony halfway through construction on the building. Although Olin opened its doors in February 1961, its official inauguration would not be celebrated until 1962, when a gala ceremony heralded both Olin’s completion and the reopening of the refurbished Main Library. “Main” was renamed “Uris Library” in honor of Harold D. Uris (Class of 1925) and his brother Percy, who were major donors to the renovation project.