William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library

Last updated
William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library
OSU William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library East Atrium.JPG
Thompson Library East Atrium
CountryUnited States
Location Columbus, Ohio
Coordinates 39°59′57″N83°00′53″W / 39.99925°N 83.01485°W / 39.99925; -83.01485 Coordinates: 39°59′57″N83°00′53″W / 39.99925°N 83.01485°W / 39.99925; -83.01485
Branch of Ohio State University Libraries
Size1.25 million (on-site)
Public transit accessAiga bus trans.svg COTA alt logo.svg 1, 2, 8, 22, 31, Night Owl
Website Thompson Library
William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library

The William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library (commonly referred to as the Thompson Library) is the main library at Ohio State University's Columbus campus. It is the university's largest library and houses its main stacks, special collections, rare books and manuscripts, and many departmental subject libraries. The library was originally built in 1912, and was renovated in 1951, 1977, and 2009. It is named in honor of the university's fifth president, William Oxley Thompson.


Library information

Grand Reading Room with replica of Winged Victory of Samothrace statue The Ohio State University December 2013 17 (Thompson Library).jpg
Grand Reading Room with replica of Winged Victory of Samothrace statue

The Ohio State University's University Libraries manages 15 locations on the Columbus campus, of which the Thompson Library is the largest. [1] In addition to housing the main stacks and serving as the central research library for the entire campus, the Thompson Library is home to many of the subject libraries in the humanities and social sciences, as well as reference, special collections, rare books and manuscripts, journals, and general interest periodicals. Departmental subject libraries include literature, foreign language by region, linguistics, philosophy, religion, theater, anthropology, history, sociology, and political science. Some subject libraries, such as science and engineering, architecture, agriculture, fine arts, law, health sciences, veterinary sciences, and geology, are housed in the university's other libraries. [2]

Of the system's 5.8 million volumes, the Thompson Library holds about 1.25 million volumes, including 250,000 special collections volumes. [3] [4] Additional book storage is provided by the university's off-site Book Depository, which also houses the University Archives.



When The Ohio State University opened in 1873, the library was located on the first floor of University Hall. In 1884, it was moved to the building's third floor, and in 1893 it was moved to the newly-constructed Orton Hall. As early as 1897, university librarians voiced their need for a dedicated library building, and this eventually resulted in the construction of the Main Library (as the Thompson Library was originally known) in 1910. [5]

Original building

Original east facade with 1951 tower above The Ohio State University December 2013 21 (Thompson Library).jpg
Original east facade with 1951 tower above

The original Beaux-Arts library building was built between 1910 and 1912. In 1910, the architectural firm Allen & Collens of Boston was selected through a design competition. Later that year, the architects submitted a formal proposal, which was accepted by OSU's Board of Trustees, and then a call for bids was put out for construction. Ground was broken on December 23, 1910, 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. Since the initial construction, the library has been renovated three times, in 1951, 1977, and 2009. [6]

1951 and 1977 expansions

The library's first expansion was built in 1947-1951. [7] A 10-story tower was constructed for the library stacks, and single-story extensions were built north and south of the east facade. It was completed on June 2, 1951. [6] In the same year, the Main Library was renamed the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library in honor of the university's fifth president, William Oxley Thompson, who was in office when the original building was built. [5]

The library was again expanded in the 1970s, when a modern addition was built to extend the west wing. It was completed on January 5, 1977. [6]

2009 renovation and expansion

West facade, built during the 2009 renovation The Ohio State University December 2013 09 (Thompson Library).jpg
West facade, built during the 2009 renovation
Buckeye Reading Room, part of the 2009 renovation The Ohio State University December 2013 10 (Thompson Library).jpg
Buckeye Reading Room, part of the 2009 renovation

The most recent renovation to the Thompson Library was a $108.7 million project that began on January 10, 2007 and was completed in the summer of 2009. [4] It was designed by the Gund Partnership with Acock Associates Architects as the architect of record. [8] The library's original east facade and Grand Reading Room were restored, while the 1977 west wing addition and 1951 north and south extensions were demolished. [4] A new 91,000 sq ft (8,500 m2) west wing was built, bringing the library floor space to 306,000 sq ft (28,400 m2). [7] Nearly 1000 seats were added to the library, but shelf space was decreased, so many volumes were moved to other locations. The renovation focused on opening up the library space to natural light and creating a more coherent space. Features added in the renovation include a new West Atrium and Buckeye Reading Room, glass walls for the lower floors of the 1951 book tower, exhibition space for the library's special collections, a café, and a ground-floor east-west passageway that extends the Oval's "Long Walk" through the building. The renovation was opened to the public on September 24, 2009. [4] [8] [7] [9]

Various art pieces were included in the restoration. The written-word piece VERSE was installed on the floor of the Buckeye Reading Room, [10] and 49 metal plates called "Foundation Stones" were set throughout the library, featuring engravings in a wide range of writing and graphic notation systems. [11] [12] Additionally, a new replica of the Winged Victory of Samothrace statue was commissioned and installed in the Grand Reading Room to replace an earlier replica from 1913 which had fallen into disrepair and was removed in 1959. [13]

The 2009 renovation received several awards, including a 2009 AIA Columbus Merit Award, [14] a 2009 ABC Excellence in Construction Eagle Award, [15] a 2009 Columbus Landmarks Foundation James B. Recchie Design Award, [16] [7] a 2010 SCUP/AIA-CAE Excellence in Architecture Renovation/Adaptive Reuse Special Citation, [17] and a 2011 AIA/ALA Library Building Award. [9]

Related Research Articles

Ohio Stadium Football stadium in Columbus, Ohio

Ohio Stadium is an American football stadium in Columbus, Ohio, on the campus of The Ohio State University. It primarily serves as the home venue of the Ohio State Buckeyes football team and is also the site for the university's Spring Commencement ceremonies each May. Common nicknames for the stadium include "the Horseshoe", "the Shoe", and "the House That Harley Built".

1 Spadina Crescent Academic building of the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada

1 Spadina Crescent, also known as the Daniels Building, is an academic building home to the John H. Daniels Faculty of Architecture, Landscape, and Design at the University of Toronto in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. The building is situated in the centre of a roundabout of Spadina Avenue, north of College Street. Its location provides a picturesque vista looking north up Spadina Avenue; it is an axial view terminus for Spadina Avenue.

Howard Dwight Smith was an architect most known for his designs of the Ohio Stadium for which he was awarded the American Institute of Architects Gold Medal for Public Building Design.


NBBJ is an American global architecture, planning and design firm with offices in Beijing, Boston, Columbus, Hong Kong, London, Los Angeles, New York, Portland, Pune, San Francisco, Seattle, and Shanghai.

University, Hayes and Orton Halls United States historic places in Columbus, Ohio, USA

University, Hayes and Orton Halls are three historic buildings on the Oval at the Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio. On July 16, 1970, they were added to the National Register of Historic Places. The original University Hall was demolished in 1971, and removed from the National Register that year.

William Oxley Thompson

William Oxley Thompson, D.D. was the fifth President of The Ohio State University.

SMBH, Inc.

SMBH, Inc. is a full-service structural engineering firm located in Columbus, Ohio. Providing structural engineering services for architects, contractors and building owners, SMBH, Inc. has experience designing educational facilities, medical centers, courthouses and commercial and residential buildings. Since 1972, SMBH, Inc. has served the architectural and construction communities in Ohio and surrounding states. SMBH, Inc. has worked with architectural firms such as Graham Gund's Gund Partnership, Mack Scogin Merrill Elam Architects, Peter Eisenman, and Robert A.M. Stern.

Florence Kenyon Hayden Rector (1882–1973) is known as the first licensed female architect in the state of Ohio, entering Ohio State University in 1901. She was also the only female architect practicing in central Ohio between 1900 and 1930. She never completed her degree but finished at least two years. Even with that being true she was still able to prove herself a successful architect. She was born in 1882 in St. Louis, and died on May 19, 1973, in Columbus. Even without her degree Rector was employed teaching architecture at Ohio State from 1905 to 1907.

Allen & Collens

Allen & Collens was an architectural partnership between Francis Richmond Allen and Charles Collens that was active from 1904 to 1931. Allen had previously worked in the Boston-based partnerships Allen & Kenway (1878–91) and Allen & Vance (1896-98), which executed Lathrop House (1901) and Davison House (1902) at Vassar College. The firm was known for its Gothic Revival design work.

Stephen J. Carter, AIA, NCARB, LF'82 is an American architect.

Richards, McCarty & Bulford

Richards, McCarty & Bulford was an American architectural firm. The General Services Administration has called the firm the "preeminent" architectural firm of the city of Columbus, Ohio. A number of the firm's works are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.

Knowlton Hall Building at The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio, US

Knowlton Hall, located in Columbus, Ohio, United States, is the current home for the three disciplines that comprise the Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture (KSA) at The Ohio State University. The building was completed in 2004. The School of Architecture offers both undergraduate and graduate degrees in the fields of Architecture, Landscape Architecture, and City and Regional Planning. Knowlton Hall serves as the replacement for Ives Hall, the previous home of the school of architecture which was demolished in July 2002. The namesake of Knowlton Hall is Austin E. "Dutch" Knowlton. He graduated from The Ohio State University in 1931 with a Bachelor's in Architectural Engineering and provided a $10 million donation that spearheaded the funding for the creation of the building.

Ohio History Center History museum in Columbus, Ohio

The Ohio History Center is a history museum and research center in Columbus, Ohio. It is the primary museum for Ohio's history, and is the headquarters, offices, and library of the Ohio History Connection. The building also houses Ohio's state archives, also managed by the Ohio History Connection. The museum is located at the Ohio State Fairgrounds, site of the Ohio State Fair, and a short distance north of downtown. The history center opened in 1970 as the Ohio Historical Center, moving the museum from its former site by the Ohio State University. The building was designed by Ireland & Associates in the Brutalist style.

Scott Simons Architects

Scott Simons Architects (SSA) is a twelve-person architecture, design, and planning firm located in Portland, Maine.

Columbus City Hall (Ohio) City hall in Columbus, Ohio

Columbus City Hall is the city hall of Columbus, Ohio, in the city's downtown Civic Center. It contains the offices of the city's mayor, auditor, and treasurer, and the offices and chambers of Columbus City Council. It was built during a period of extensive construction of a civic center along the city's riverfront, including the building of the American Insurance Union Citadel, now known as the LeVeque Tower, directly to the east across Front Street.

The Ballinger Company

Ballinger is an architecture/engineering firm, one of the first in the United States to merge the disciplines of architecture and engineering into a professional practice. The firm’s single office in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania houses a staff of over 200 people comprising three architectural studios, two multi-disciplinary engineering studios and an interiors studio. Ballinger is one of the largest architectural firms in the Philadelphia region and known for its work in academic, healthcare, corporate, and research planning and design.

Atlas Building United States historic place

The Atlas Building is a high-rise building in Downtown Columbus, Ohio, built in 1905. It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1977.

Main Library (Columbus, Ohio) Columbus, Ohios main lending library

The Main Library of the Columbus Metropolitan Library (CML) system is located in Downtown Columbus, Ohio, United States. The public library is the largest in the library system and holds approximately 300,000 volumes. It includes numerous rooms, including separate spaces for children, teens, an adult reading room, newspaper room, auditorium, gallery, gift shop, and a cafe. The third floor includes a computer lab and houses the Franklin County Genealogical & Historical Society.

Kliment Halsband Architects (KHA) was founded in New York City in 1972 by Robert Kliment and Frances Halsband. The New York City based firm is known for their architecture, master planning, interior design, adaptive reuse, historic preservation and transformation of institutional buildings. KHA's work expertise includes cultural, educational, governmental, and most recently healthcare buildings.


  1. "About Us". The Ohio State University – University Libraries. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  2. "Locations". The Ohio State University – University Libraries. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  3. Louise Schaper (June 28, 2012). "New Landmark Libraries 2012 #3: William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, Ohio State University". Library Journal. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  4. 1 2 3 4 Encarnacion Pyle (August 3, 2009). "OSU's main library reopens today after three-year, $109 million renovation". The Columbus Dispatch. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  5. 1 2 "Thompson (William Oxley) Library". Buckeye Stroll. The Ohio State University – University Libraries. 2010. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  6. 1 2 3 "William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library". Austin E. Knowlton School of Architecture Digital Library. The Ohio State University. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  7. 1 2 3 4 "William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library, Ohio State University". Gund Partnership. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  8. 1 2 Lawrence Biemiller (January 15, 2010). "Campus Architecture Database: William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library". The Chronicle of Higher Education. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  9. 1 2 "William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library - 2011 AIA / ALA Library Building Awards". The American Institute of Architects. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  10. "VERSE". The Ohio State University – University Libraries. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  11. "Foundation Stones". The Ohio State University – University Libraries. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  12. Dan McKeever (May 13, 2009). "Lively Languages". The Lantern. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  13. Sam Harrington (March 17, 2013). "Winged Victory replica statue placed in Thompson Library, 100 year history with Ohio State". The Lantern. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  14. "2009 Design Awards". AIA Columbus. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  15. "The Ohio State University Thompson Library, Columbus Ohio" (PDF). Heapy Engineering. Retrieved October 4, 2016.
  16. "James B. Recchie Design Award Past Winners". Columbus Landmarks Foundation. Retrieved October 6, 2016.
  17. "2010 SCUP Excellence in Planning, SCUP Excellence in Landscape Architecture and SCUP/AIA-CAE Excellence in Architecture Award Recipients". Society for College and University Planning. Retrieved October 4, 2016.