Thinking Big: Tolley and Bird
By 1958 Chancellor Tolley decided to press the issue of needing newer and larger library facilities. After having considered a system of smaller libraries (a central library, an undergraduate library, and a separate building for rare books and manuscripts), Tolley announced in February 1967 the block of Walnut Park as the choice for the new library building. Instead of three separate branches, the envisioned new library was to house all collections on seven floors totaling 212,000 square feet. A significant donor to the project was Ernest Stevenson Bird, whose total contribution would ultimately amount to $3 million.
Construction on Bird Library began in the summer of 1969, shortly before Tolley’s retirement that September. The building was completed in 1972 at the cost of $13 million. The move of the nearly 3 million books, periodicals, manuscripts and microforms from Carnegie, the various branches and the Continental Can building took over a month and involved 48 library employees and students working in twelve-hour shifts.
The photograph captures a view of the construction site looking west as seen from the Delta Kappa Epsilon Fraternity chapter house, which would become the Goldstein Alumni and Faculty Center in January 1974.
The image shows the new library’s south entrance with its original bridge leading to the second floor.