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William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library

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Title: William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library  
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Subject: Ohio State University, Library buildings completed in 1951, Library buildings completed in 1977, Library buildings completed in 1912, Edison Welding Institute
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William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library

Thompson Library atrium
The Oval as seen from the 11th floor of Thompson Library

The William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library is the main library at Ohio State University's Columbus campus. The library was closed for renovation in July 2006, but it reopened its doors to students and patrons on August 3, 2009 after an extensive, multi-year renovation project. It is named in honor of the university's fifth president, William Oxley Thompson.

Library information

The Ohio State University ("OSU") library system includes 55 individual libraries and collections. Of them, the Thompson is the single largest collection of volumes and periodicals on campus. In addition to housing main stacks and serving as the central research library for the entire campus, the Thompson Library is also home to many of the subject libraries in the humanities and social sciences, reference, special collections, rare books and manuscripts, university archives, journals and general interest periodicals. Departmental subject libraries include literature, foreign language by region, linguistics, philosophy, religion, theater, anthropology, history, sociology, and political science. The Thompson Library does not house OSU's science and engineering collections. Those materials are available at the separate 18th Avenue Library.[1]

Of the system's 5.8 million volumes, the Thompson Library was home to approximately 1 million prior to renovations in 2007. Following renovations and despite an overall expansion of the building some of these collections will be distributed to other libraries and the capacity of main stacks is expected to be reduced by some 20%. As with all of OSU's libraries, the contents of the main library are included in the system's electronic catalog OSCAR. Books stored at any library location or the book depository can be requested and retrieved at an on-campus location of your choice, generally within 24 hours.


The design team for the original building was selected in 1910 through an architectural competition. The winners of the competition, Allen and Collins of Boston, were charged with bringing the library to life. Later that year, Allen and Collins drew up a formal proposal, which they presented to OSU's Board of Trustees for approval. Once approved, the firm was allowed to seek bids from construction contractors.[2] On December 7, 1910 six contractors were selected for their various areas of expertise. Ground was broken two days before Christmas and construction was completed two years later on December 18, 1912. Following completion, books were moved and the library was officially open to the university community on January 6, 1913.[3]

The library has been renovated or expanded three times since its original date of construction. The first addition, a massive extension of the original three-floor structure, the addition of the 10-story tower, as well as single story extensions to the north and south ends of the east entrance. This first renovation was completed on June 2, 1951. The second expansion added an unadorned modern extension to the west wing, finished on January 5, 1977.[4] A new, third, $108 million renovation of the building began on January 10, 2007 and was completed in the Summer of 2009. The 2007-09 renovation included hazardous materials abatement, replacement and expansion of the 1977 addition, and restoration of the building's original east facade. The library was finally made open to the public on August 3, 2009, and it was officially dedicated on September 24, 2009.



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External links

Media related to William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library at Wikimedia Commons

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