Butler Library

Coordinates: 40°48′23″N 73°57′47″W / 40.8064°N 73.9631°W / 40.8064; -73.9631

Butler Library (September 2015).
Butler Library's Reference Hall

The Nicholas Murray Butler Library, colloquially called Butler Library, on the Morningside Heights campus of Columbia University at 535 West 114th Street, the university's largest single library with over 2 million volumes. One of the largest buildings on the campus, it was built in 1931–1934 and was designed by James Gamble Rogers in the Neoclassical style.

Originally called "South Hall", in 1946 it was renamed for Nicholas Murray Butler, the president of Columbia University from 1902–1945, who first proposed the building when plans to expand the Low Memorial Library did not come to fruition.[1] The new library was funded by Edward Harkness, a Columbia alumnus who was also donor of Yale's residential college system and Harvard's houses.

The library's facade features an arcade of columns in the Ionic order above which are inscribed the names of writers, philosophers, and thinkers: Homer, Herodotus, Sophocles, Plato, Aristotle, Demosthenes, Cicero, and Vergil[2] on the northern face, towards College Walk and the Low Library. Cervantes, Shakespeare, Milton, Voltaire, and Goethe on the east, facing John Jay Hall and Wallach Hall; and Horace, Tacitus, St. Augustine, St. Thomas Aquinas, and Dante on the western facade, facing Alfred Lerner Hall and Carman Hall.

Butler Library remains at least partially open 24 hours a day during the academic year.[3]:1–2

Several books and screenplays have been written in Butler, including Nobel Prize‑winning novelist Orhan Pamuk's The Black Book and the script for the film Capote. It also plays a role in Paul Auster's 2009 novel Invisible: the novel's main protagonist, Adam Walker, takes a job as a page in the library's stacks. This section of the novel is set in 1967 when the stacks were closed to library users.[3] The page's task was to retrieve requested books from the stacks and re‑shelve returned books.

See also


  1. "Butler Library". Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  2. "Grazing in the Stacks of Academe". The New York Times. 27 June 2012. Retrieved 7 March 2016.
  3. 1 2 "Butler Library: Self‑Guided Tour" (PDF). New York: Columbia University Libraries. 2008-09-17. pp. 1–8. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2013-11-28.
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