Columbia Approves Funding for the Final Phase of Butler Library’s Renovation

NEW YORK, June 10, 2004 - The University Board of Trustees at Columbia has approved $25,250,000 for the final phase of the Butler Library Renovation project, scheduled for completion in fall, 2006. Total funding for the comprehensive renovation project, which began in 1995, is estimated to be just over $100 million.

“The University has demonstrated its commitment to academic excellence and has invested in the complete redesign and refurbishment of the largest library on campus,” said James Neal, Vice President for Information Services and University Librarian. He continued, “The result is that Butler Library is now a much better place to study and work, and is serving as an intellectual and collaborative center for the Morningside campus.”

This phase of the renovation will replace the stack and freight elevators, expand the mechanical systems, completely overhaul the upper levels including the Oral History Research Office, and replace the roof. There will also be new study areas for graduate students with improved power and data support, and the stacks containing the rare book and manuscript collections will be renovated.

During the first four phases of the renovation, dramatic improvements were made. Reading rooms were expanded and refurbished, and hundreds of thousands of volumes were moved to the Research Collections and Preservation Consortium (ReCAP), a shelving facility at Princeton University, New Jersey. Also, wireless connectivity was installed, and the mechanical, electrical, telecommunications, air conditioning, heating, fire protection, security and lighting systems were upgraded. The most noticeable improvement from the user’s perspective is the increased seating capacity, which has almost doubled, and the diversity of study spaces provided.

Butler Library, formerly named South Hall, was opened in 1934. In 1946, it was renamed after Nicholas Murray Butler, who served as President of Columbia University for 43 years. Butler is the largest of the 22 libraries that comprise Columbia University Libraries. In addition to the History and Humanities Collections in its stacks, it also houses the Philip L. Milstein Family College Library, the Oral History Research Office, the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Electronic Publishing Initiative at Columbia (EPIC), Columbia Center for New Media Teaching and Learning (CCNMTL), and central services such as the Library Information Office, Interlibrary Loan, the Preservation Division, the Technical Support and Acquisitions Division, and the Libraries’ Administrative Offices.

For more information about the renovation, please visit the Butler Library Renovation website at or e-mail

Columbia University Libraries is one of the top ten academic library systems in the nation, with 9.2 million volumes, over 65,650 serials, as well as extensive collections of electronic resources, manuscripts, rare books, microforms, and other nonprint formats. The collections and services are organized into 25 libraries, supporting specific academic or professional disciplines. Columbia Libraries employs more than 400 professional and support staff to assist faculty, students, and researchers in their academic endeavors. The Libraries’ website at is a gateway to its print and electronic collections and to its services.

06/10/04 JD