Butler Library, Columbia University (Draft)

Butler Library, Columbia University (Draft)

Khurram Parvaz
Butler Library houses two million volumes comprising the University's collections in the humanities, with particular strengths in history (including government documents and social science materials published before 1974), literature, philosophy and religion, as well as one of the country's most extensive collections of materials pertinent to the study of Greco-Roman antiquity. The book stacks are located in the center of the building, and the entrance to the main stack is at the third floor Circulation Desk. Butler Library opened in 1934 as South Hall, replacing the grand but obsolete Low Memorial Library. It cost four million (depresion-era) dollars, donated by Standard Oil executive Edward S. Harkness (L.L.D. 1928), and was designed by James Gamble Rogers, who also was responsible for the Sterling Memorial Library at Yale. There is another Yale connection, as the entry way mural, Athena defeating the two devils of malevolent influence and disorder, was created by Eugene Savage of the Yale School of Fine Arts. In 1946, South Hall was renamed Butler Library, in honor of Nicholas Murray Butler, the president of Columbia from 1902 to 1945. In fact, he had already put his stamp on the library, as he had selected the names carved along the porticos and on the panels, and had selected the quotations gracing the main rooms. When it opened, the collection included the central stacks as well as a number of specialized libraries, including the Business Library, the Brander Matthews Dramatic Library, and the Library School Library. Currently there are approximately two million books in the central stacks, and several other collections, including the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library, the Periodicals and Microforms collection, and the Milstein Undergraduate Library.
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