Columbia Library columns (v.27(1977Nov-1978May))

(New York :  Friends of the Columbia Libraries.  )



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  v.27,no.2(1978:Feb): Page 23  

The New Avery Architectural
and Fine Arts Library


IT is finally done. It took a long time—nearly twenty years of
dreaming, scheming, trying and urging, five years of plan¬
ning, and three years of building—but it is done. It will now
take some time to make it really work in its new setting, but
it is done.

I am speaking of the new quarters for the combined Avery-
Fine Arts Library. Let me first re-introduce the old library. The
Avery Memorial Architectural Library was established as a branch
of the then Columbia College Library in 1890 through the gift of
Samuel Putnam Avery (1822-1904). It was to be a memorial ro
his departed architect-son Henry Ogden Avery (1852-90). Its
core was the approximately 2,000 fine volumes in architecture and
the decorative arts left by young Avery; an endowment for the
future purchase of books was added. Out of these relatively mod¬
est beginnings there developed oneofthegreat libraries of archirec-
ture. First tucked away in a room in the 49th Street building, then
the home of Columbia College, it moved in 1897 to the new cam¬
pus on Morningside Heights and was given a room in the newly
completed Low iMemorial Library. In 1912 the Avery Library ac¬
quired a proud building of its own, Avery Hall. A four-story, neo-
Renaissance Palazzo, it was built through rhe generosity of Samuel
Putnam Avery II (i 847-1920), son of the original donor. The
architect was Charles Follen McKim (1847-1909), of the great
firm of McKim Mead and White, who had provided the master
plan for the campus and had so brilliantly designed Low Library.
Through the Avery endowment, through fine gifts, and thanks to
the vigorous support by the University, the Avery Library—under
a succession of outstanding librarians such as Talbot F. Hamlin,

  v.27,no.2(1978:Feb): Page 23