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 building close for renovation work?
The 1928 and 1948 portions of the library will close for renovation in stages to allow for the relocation of staff, faculty, and collection materials.

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 the summer of 2015.

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.

During the renovation, the Biddle Rare Book Room will be completely emptied of books, furniture, and objects. The room itself will not be open to the public after December 17, 2012. Some books will move to the stacks area of our temporary swing space, and some will go to the Library Service Center (LSC).

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. 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. The Gothic Reading Room will close to the public after May 11, 2013.

Where are all the books and manuscripts going?
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 will have 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 December 17, 2012 through February 17, 2013, as we will be devoting our time to safely moving our collections.

Will 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.

  • The Biddle Rare Book Room suite will close for renovation on December 17, 2012.
  • The Gothic Reading Room and the Breedlove Room will close for renovation on May 11, 2013.

These rooms will not be available for events or meetings until after the completion of the renovation. They will reopen in the summer of 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 have exhibits until the spring of 2013.

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.

 

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