Frequently Asked Questions

Frequently Asked Questions

What is being renovated?
The 1928 library building—West Campus’s original library, designed by the Horace Trumbauer architectural film—and its 1948 addition, including the Gothic Reading Room and Biddle Rare Book Room, will be renovated. This space, located at the heart of Duke’s West Campus, is home to the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library.

Areas affected by the renovation include the entire 1928 and 1948 portions of the building, the two main library entrances facing the academic quad, the Gothic Reading Room, Breedlove Room, Biddle Rare Book Room, and the Perkins Exhibit Gallery.

When will the Rubenstein Library reopen?

The renovations will be complete and the 1928 and 1948 buildings will reopen as the brand-new David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library in August 2015.  Until then, the Rubenstein Library’s public reading room has moved to a temporary location on the 3rd floor of Perkins Library.

What will happen to the Biddle Rare Book Room suite?
The Rubenstein Library’s Biddle Rare Book Room suite and its furnishings, a gift from Mary Duke Biddle, are included in the renovation project. The renovations will preserve the character of the rooms, but will allow for the rooms to be open to the public as permanent exhibition space. New state-of-the-art shelving and exhibit cases will allow for Rubenstein Library treasures to be displayed safely and securely. To accommodate construction, the Biddle Rare Book Room has been completely emptied of books, furniture, and objects and is closed.

The Audubon volumes will not be on display during the renovation, but patrons will be allowed to request to view them in the Rubenstein Library reading room (with 48 hour notice). After the renovation is complete, there will be a permanent display of at least one Audubon volume in the Biddle Exhibition Galleries.

What will happen to the Gothic Reading Room?

The Gothic Reading Room is also included in the renovation project and is currently closed. Renovations will preserve the character of the room—which author William Styron, ’47 called his “sanctuary”—so that it continues to be a comfortable and inviting space for studying and campus events.

Where are all of the books and manuscripts?
The current stacks of the Rubenstein library will be completely renovated, requiring the removal of all books and manuscripts that are currently stored in this location. During the renovation, most of the Rubenstein materials will join collection material already stored in the Library Service Center (LSC). The renovation project will create a new storage core in the building that will have excellent temperature and relative humidity control; we will return as many books and manuscripts to that core as possible when the renovation is completed.

I would like to arrange a visit to the Rubenstein Library for my class or my community group. Will this be possible during the renovation?

Yes! Our temporary space has a dedicated room for instruction sessions and group presentations. We will be happy to welcome Duke University classes, classes from other schools and universities, and community groups. Please send an e-mail via our “Ask a Question” web form to connect with a Research Services librarian who will work with your class or group.

Rubenstein Library staff will not be able to accommodate instruction sessions or group visits from June 1, 2015 to August 23, 2015, as we will be moving back into the renovated space during this time.

Am I still be able to reserve the Biddle Rare Book Room, the Gothic Reading Room and the Breedlove Room for events and meetings?

No. These rooms are included in the renovation project and are not be available for events or meetings until after the renovation is complete in Fall 2015.

What will happen to the Perkins Gallery, the Rare Book Room Hallway Cases, and the Photography Gallery?

The Duke University Libraries will continue limited exhibition programming during the renovation.

  • The Rare Book Room Hallway Cases will stop exhibiting collection materials in June 2012.
  • The Photography Gallery will end its exhibit programming in December 2012.
  • The Perkins Gallery will be closed May, 2015 through August, 2015 and will reopen as The Chappell Gallery in Fall 2015.

There may be possibilities for mini-exhibits or non-traditional exhibits during the 2013-2015 renovation period. For more information, contact Meg Brown, exhibits librarian, at meg.brown@duke.edu.

The Final Phase of the Perkins Project