Breaking News

‘Crown jewel of East Campus’: Lilly Library renovation project is underway with a  million grant

‘Crown jewel of East Campus’: Lilly Library renovation project is underway with a $10 million grant

A $10 million grant for Lilly Library’s renovation means the project can finally move forward after delays from COVID-19 restrictions.

Construction was initially slated to begin in summer 2020 but was halted due to the virus. Now, the University has raised just over half of the expected amount required to start the renovation. The construction, which will completely shut down Lilly Library, will begin in mid-2022 and take about two years to complete. A final timetable is still being determined. 

The grant comes from the Duke Endowment, a private foundation based in Charlotte, N.C. It brings the total fund for the renovation project to just shy of $26 million, according to Tom Hadzor, associate university librarian for development for Duke Libraries. Hadzor estimates the cost of the renovation to be approximately $45 million.

“We clearly have some more money to be raised. We are hoping that we will have raised the money come next May,” he said.

In addition to expanding the current library’s footprint from approximately 40,000 to approximately 60,000 square feet, architects have planned for a covered outdoor terrace, naturally-lit study spaces, and, most popularly, a brand new cafe about the size of von der Heyden Pavilion, Hadzor said. 

Aaron Welborn, director of communications for Duke Libraries, believes the need to renovate Lilly is “still as pressing as ever.” The library was built in 1927 and only had one minor cosmetic touch-up in 1993.

“Lilly serves as the introduction to the libraries for a lot of first-year students. It’s important for that gateway to be as welcoming and as nice as possible,” he said.

For the renovation, Duke is working with Dewing Schmid Kearns, the architectural firm that also helped to build  Bostock Library and von der Heyden Pavilion.

The final decision for when construction can begin will come from Executive Vice President Daniel Ennis, Hadzor said. Further information about the renovation schedule will be publicized as it is finalized.

For Welborn, the Lilly Library renovation is part of a larger vision for East Campus. “​​I think it’s really important to bring East Campus up as a whole to the same level as West Campus,” he said. He wants students, faculty and grad students who are based on East Campus to have that same “new library feeling.”

Despite what will be an inconvenient disruption to East Campus life, Welborn remains hopeful about the project. 

“It will be a crown jewel of East Campus once it’s finished, and I think a lot of students will really appreciate the time and effort that went into it,” Welborn said. 

Updated timelines, renovation plans and updates can be found at the Lilly Project’s renovation website.