Art and Architecture of the Interior Library


The Interior Library occupies the entire Wing 1100 West, including parts of the floors above and below and the hyphen (Technical Services Office, Room 2262) connecting Wings 2100 and 2200 West.

The Reading Room occupies about one-third of the floor area of this wing and the library stacks occupy the other two-thirds. The Reading Room (2,718 square feet) is a basilican plan, three bays long and five bays wide. The short axis running east and west is the main axis. The north side aisle is the Card Index Alcove and the south side aisle is the Reference alcove. Access to the Reading Room is through an Entry Hall (92 square feet) from the South Lobby. Flanking the Entry Hall on the south is the Periodicals Reading Room alcove (244 square feet) and on the north are stairs that lead to the East Balcony above. On the opposite side of the Reading Room is an aisle (485 square feet), five bays long. At the south end of this aisle is the Office of the Coordinator of Library Services. At the north end of this aisle is another set of stairs leading to the West Balcony above.

The Stacks are entered from a central door on axis with the main entry and from the above mentioned aisle. The Stacks have six levels or decks (a total of 23,000 square feet). The six decks are sandwiched two per floor on the basement, first floor, and second floor levels. The area of the lower two decks in the basement is not as large as the upper four decks. Access to deck levels is by a centrally located elevator and stairs.

Fourth Tier of the Stacks

The fourth tier of the Stacks is on the same level as the Reading Room and is roughly seven bays long and five bays wide. Along the north wall of the Stacks is a long narrow Training Room with access from both the stacks and Card Index Alcove. Along the outer bay on the south side, extending the full length of the Stacks, is a series of Library staff offices.

The original floors of the Reading Room are a checkerboard pattern of light and dark brown cork with marble borders. The Balconies also have their original cork floors with marble borders and bands between sections. Within each section is a cork border and large cork tile. Treads and risers of the stairs, leading to the Balconies, are green Cardiff marble, honed finish.


The walls of the Reading Room are Indiana Limestone in regular, ahslar pattern. The only embellishments of the limestone walls are a simple molded cornice at the Balcony level and the capitals of the piers. In the four corners of the Reading Room are custom designed bookcases. The walnut bookcase is framed with simple piasters on the corners, crowned with a classical cornice, and supported on a ventilation cabinet with bronze grille of a modified Roman grate design. The bookcase is built-in with black marble base that matches the wall base of the Reading Room.

The walls of the Entry Hall, Alcoves, and Balconies have floor-to-ceiling walnut paneling. The panels are doubly recessed. The inner panel has a wide border with mitered corners. The border has molded stiles and rails. The walls have a 6-inch black marble base and a simple classical, walnut cornice.

ornate bronze grilles

Hinged ornate bronze grilles cover the windows in the blind galleries over the Card Index Alcove and the Reference Alcove. The design of the grilles is a modified Roman grate design similar to the grilles in the Interior Auditorium. However, the grilles of the Library have anthemions radiating from the discs at the crossing of the X, instead of acanthus leaves.

An ornate bronze clock is suspended from the ceiling over the location of the Reference Desk. The clock was specially designed for the Reading room.

The walls of the Balconies have a plaster molding above the built-in bookcases and along the plastered beam over the pier capitals. The molding is a stylized Doric bead-and-reel molding. Both the beam and the molding are grained to match the walnut paneling.

At the south end of the Balconies, and above the stairs, are windows with bronze grilles. The grilles have the same pattern as those in the blind gallery on the north and south sides of the Reading Room. Below the windows on the south end of the two galleries are metal heating and air-conditioning units, which are grained to match the walnut paneling.


The stairs leading to both Balconies are made of Cardiff green marble, honed finish treads and risers. The stairs railing is bronze. The design consists of a series of X's inscribed in vertical parallelograms. An arrow with head up pierces the intersection of the X. A running Greek fret design skirts the top of the railing just below the walnut handrail. The newel is a plain column with an acanthus capital.

The double doors from the South Lobby are walnut with four square raised panels each. The double doors from the aisle to the stacks are leather, bronze studded with elongated octagonal windows. The doors in the Reading Room are walnut with original buffalo-head doorknobs. The buffalo-head on the doorknob is a full frontal view of the head with an Indian ornament hanging from the horns. A row of beads encircles the head. Above the doorknob the escutcheon consists of lightning bolts and a stylized eagle with spread wings and tail.

The ceilings of the Reading Room, Alcoves, and Balconies are acoustic plaster, sprayed white. Around the field of acoustic plaster is a hard plaster border and a very ornate, wide ceiling cornice.

The light fixtures, square fluorescent fixtures with translucent lenses, were installed in 1962. The Reading Room did not originally have ceiling fixtures, but was lighted by natural light, up lights in the blind galleries, and table lamps. The Alcoves and Galleries have round incandescent fixtures mounted flush with the ceiling.

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