Frequently Asked Questions about the Lilly Library Renovation

All information current as of 7/12/2021

The Lilly Library building will reopen August 16

On April 1, 2019 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 renovation and will be updated as often as new information is available. Your questions are welcome at

Visit the Lilly Library Renovation page


A. The exhibition galleries and Reading Room will reopen August 16, 2021.  Use of the Reading Room will require an appointment. Email to schedule your consultation.

A.   The exhibition galleries will be open M-F 9:30 AM to 6:00 PM and Saturdays from 9:30 AM to 4:00 PM. The Reading Room will be open (by appointment only) M-F 9:30 AM to 5:45 PM and Saturdays 9:30 AM to 12:45 PM.


A.  Visitors will see much that is familiar and much that has changed when they enter the library. Public galleries have been modernized by national experts in library and museum display and include new exhibition cases, new lighting, and much cosmetic upgrade and care, such as refinished wood paneling and the return of our sparkling and newly polished chandelier. Infrastructure modernization includes the building’s first public elevator and improved accessibility. Additional seminar rooms, a new lecture hall/classroom, and improved technology support the education and outreach mission of the library. While seminar rooms and classrooms are normally closed to the public, they can be seen on public tours (information below) as long as classes are not in session.

Lilly Endowment Inc. also awarded Indiana University an additional gift to commission an inspirational and educational cycle of murals in the Reading Room. Out of 76 applicants, a committee of experts selected artist Ralph Gilbert, who created a cycle of murals representing the wide-ranging and wonder-inspiring global scope of the Lilly Library’s collections. To view the murals, stop by for a scheduled tour (see below) or stop in on Saturday from 1:00-4:00, during which time the Reading Room is open for public viewing.

A. The reopening exhibition is titled “The Eye, the Mind, and the Imagination: The Collectors of the Lilly Library” and focuses on some of the major collectors whose lifetime passions for books and manuscripts inspired them to build collections which are now part of the Lilly Library. On display will be treasures from the collection of J.K. Lilly, Jr., including the First Folio of Shakespeare and Tamerlane, the rare first published work of Edgar Allan Poe. Other collections highlighted include the miniature books of Ruth Adomeit, the children’s literature of Elisabeth Ball, and the medieval manuscripts of George Poole and C.L. Ricketts.

The New Testament of the Gutenberg Bible and John James Audubon’s Birds of America remain on permanent exhibit, and both are housed in beautiful new display cases. Puzzles from the Jerry Slocum Collection of Mechanical Puzzles are on exhibit in the Slocum Room.

A.  Public tours of the newly-renovated library will take place weekly on Fridays at 2:00. You can also stop by any time during our normal hours of operation to look around on your own.

The library will be open to explore all new public spaces during the IU Arts & Humanities Council’s September First Thursday celebration on Thursday, September 2nd (time TBA).

Further special events to celebrate the library’s reopening and 61st anniversary in October 2021 will be announced in the weeks to come.

A.    All Lilly collections are currently available to use by appointment only. An appointment can be made by emailing Please give a minimum of two weeks advance notice. Some collections are closed due to the ongoing move of materials (see below). Reference staff will confirm availability of materials a week before your scheduled appointment.

A.   No, many Lilly Library collections are still in transit to their new shelving locations. Many books and manuscripts which were once housed in the Lilly Library will now be housed in the Auxiliary Library Facility and must be boxed, barcoded, and moved to new shelving locations. We anticipate that it will be a year or longer until all collections are once again fully accessible. To determine whether the material you wish to consult is available, contact

A.  Because our collections are still in transit, we are only able to offer limited classroom opportunities in Fall 2021 and will be working only with faculty with whom librarians have worked in the past. To discuss future opportunities (post-Fall 2021) for bringing a class session to the Lilly Library, email

A. The Lilly Library will be following Indiana University’s guidelines for COVID precautions. All IU students, faculty, and staff must be fully vaccinated against Covid-19 before returning to campus. More information about COVID precautions at Indiana University


A. The renovation of the Lilly Library was made possible by a $10.9 million grant that Lilly Endowment Inc. awarded the Indiana University Foundation to support renovation of the university’s internationally renowned IU Lilly Library. Additional funding from the Lilly Endowment, Inc. was also provided for the Bicentennial Mural Project. More information can be found on the Renovation News page.


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 still 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. News and Events are posted on the library’s webpage. We can also be found on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram. Questions should be directed to