Frequently Asked Questions about the Lilly Library Renovation

All information current as of 11/13/2019

August 12, 2019 Reading Room now appointment only

November 6, 2019 Last day of 2019 to request digitization services

December 6, 2019 Lilly Library building closes for renovation

March 2020 Limited access and services now open at Wells Library


This fall, all Reading Room visits must be scheduled one week in advance.

The Lilly Library holds more than 8.5 million manuscripts, nearly half a million books, and 150,000 pieces of sheet music. All items must be carefully moved for the building renovation and this work begins immediately.  

In response to this activity, processes at the library must also change. Many of the Lilly Library’s collections are now in transit and unavailable for research. All Reading Room visits must be scheduled one week in advance.  Email the Lilly Library to request your appointment and check availability of materials. 

On April 1, the Lilly Endowment, Inc. announced a $10.9M grant to Indiana University to support Lilly Library’s core renovation, and on June 14, 2019, IU's Board of Trustees approved a $12.4 million  project to renovate the iconic Lilly Library in the same year it celebrates its 60th anniversary.

This page offers answers to the questions IU Libraries is most often asked about the upcoming work and will be updated as often as new information is available. Your questions are welcome at

Visit the Lilly Library Renovation page


A.    December 6, 2019 is the last day of service at Lilly Library prior to renovation.  The library building will be closed to all usage through all of 2020 and part of 2021.

A.    Yes. Due to the incredible academic value of Lilly Library collections and experts, a temporary space has been rapidly identified and work is already underway to make it ready. The Lilly Library librarians and experts will continue to work with visiting and local researchers, as well as faculty, to plan ahead for research visits and consults to begin after March 1.  It is expected that at this time the 10th floor of the Herman B Wells Library East Tower will begin providing appointment-based access to some Lilly Library collections. Lilly staff will be available throughout the renovation and will continue to offer their expertise to the IU community and beyond.

Teaching space will also be available in limited capacity, and public services and digitization staff will have office space in this same area.   Specifically, the south end of the 10th floor of the East Tower (behind the public elevators) will undergo modifications to create staff space and a Reading Room that will double as a classroom as needed. To ensure the security of the Lilly Library collections, doors will be added to enclose the space which will be equipped with proximity card access readers. 

Lilly Library staff will move into Wells during the winter semester break and Lilly services will begin by the spring semester. 

A.    In some ways, renovation begins immediately.  All materials will be carefully moved from the library to protect our 8.5 million manuscripts, 450,000 rare books and many other precious artifacts during renovation. In fall of 2019 materials will be transported to secure, IU storage locations.  Some of these will not be accessible for the project duration. From October 2019 to January 2020, many of the Lilly Library’s collections will be in transit and unavailable for research. Please contact to check availability of materials. 

Changes to service at Lilly Library are due to the preparations required to safely store our collections.

  • This includes Reading Room access by advance appointment only. Appointments can be made by emailing  
  • Digitization services will be suspended between November 6, 2019 and March 2020.

A.    There will be changes to current practices during the renovation. The Lilly Library public services staff will make many frequently used materials accessible upon request in a secure reading room at the Herman B Wells Library.  Limited space will require that researchers make an appointment, as well as to request access to materials in advance. Lilly Library staff are familiar with the needs of researchers and faculty and are developing processes to ensure the highest level of access.  However, secure storage arrangements will mean that not all materials will be accessible during the renovation.

All faculty are invited to alert the library of any materials that may be desired for access during the renovation by sending an email to  All possible accommodation will be made. 

A temporary Reading Room will be offered at the Herman B Wells Library. However, storage limitations require some Lilly Library materials to be unavailable for any use during the renovation. 

For the most updated information on specific materials, view the online list of collections that are closed for the term of the renovation, and collections that will be unavailable for a shorter periods due to transport.

If you are a faculty member or researcher who would like to alert the library of materials that you wish to access during the renovation, send an email to liblilly @

A.    IU Libraries and the University Architects Office continue to study the needs for the Lilly Library collections and potential locations. Indiana University is fortunate to have a state-of-the-art Auxiliary Library Facility (ALF) where collections from all over the campus are stored in a high security and climate-controlled environment.  Ideally a large percentage of the Lilly Library collections will be stored in the ALF. Indeed, some materials from the Lilly Library collections are already stored here to take advantage of optimal preservation conditions.

A.    It is common for a project of this scale to take 12-16 months, with additional time needed to relocate collections.

A.   All staff will be needed during the renovation. There is significant work required to provide access to, instruct with, support research with, conserve, describe, organize, and digitize the massive collections of the Lilly Library. Lilly staff will be available throughout the renovation and will continue to offer their expertise to the IU community and beyond. The staff of the Lilly Library will continue their work as well as participate in the moving of collections and planning for the renovation.  

A.    The Lilly Library is committed to the teaching mission of IU. Some teaching with Lilly Library materials will continue through the renovation using alternate procedures.

A location at Herman B Wells Library has been identified for classroom teaching as early as Spring semester 2020. There will be limitations, however, and those faculty members in the Libraries’ Primary Source Immersion Program will receive some prioritization, based on the prior planning already in place for these courses.  

A.    The Lilly Library is so much more than a building. The very generous $10.9M gift from Lilly Endowment, Inc. makes the renovation of the building’s infrastructure possible.  However, there are many special projects and opportunities that will require additional support.  

If you are interested in being part of this impactful, once-in-a-generation renovation, contact Pete Rhoda, IU Libraries Executive Director of Development at or 812-855-7494.

A.  On June 14, 2019, Indiana University Board of Trustees approved a $12.4 million renovation project. Vice President for Capital Planning and Facilities Thomas A. Morrison presented the request, along with support and remarks by Carolyn Walters, Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries.   

She said, "In 1960, builders simply had no way to imagine how far we would take J.K. Lilly’s gift.  We often say the Lilly Library is a promise.  Once materials are in our possession, we are committed to their life-long conservation.  We are investing in the life of these rare and historical artifacts, which is far greater than our own. Today, we can carry the promise of the Lilly Library forward to the next generation and into Indiana University’s third century."

Read more in a report covering the Board of Trustees meeting.

A.    Yes. The scope of the renovation project will require closure of the Lilly Library building.  This will impact access to collections, although extraordinary effort will be made to provide as much access as possible and to ensure Lilly Library staff member expertise remains available to researchers, faculty, and students.  


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