Located on the lower floors of Avery Hall and its extension, the world’s leading architectural library supports the work of students and faculty at the School by providing a wealth of research materials as well as outstanding research support and access services. Orientation tours of the library—offered to students at the beginning of the fall and summer semesters—are strongly recommended. The Avery Architectural Library was founded in 1890, following a gift to Columbia by Samuel Putnam Avery. The University’s Fine Arts Library was added in 1978, and the re-named Avery Architectural and Fine Arts Library now holds more than 650,000 non-circulating books and periodicals related to architecture, urban planning, art history, archaeology, historic preservation and the decorative arts.
The Avery Classics collection comprises more than 45,000 rare books beginning with Alberti’s De Re Aedificatoria (1485) to the recent limited edition Glenn Murcutt: Architect (2006). The Classics collection also has important holdings of graphic suites, periodicals, manuscripts, broadsides, photographs, and printed ephemera. The American collection is one of the most extensive in existence. Avery Library also includes the Ware collection of more than 9,000 circulating books on architecture, urban planning and real estate development. Avery’s collections are searchable through CLIO—the Columbia University Libraries online catalog.
More than 2 million documents make up Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection, including original drawings by masters such as Frank Lloyd Wright and Le Corbusier; original photographs by Lewis Hine, Joseph Molitor, Samuel Gottscho and others; and the complete or partial archives of many major American practices, such as Richard Upjohn, Alexander Jackson Davis, Greene & Greene, Warren & Wetmore, Harold van Buren Magonigle, Stanford White, Wallace K. Harrison, Gordon Bunshaft, Philip Johnson and the Guastavino Fireproof Construction Company. The collection is a major source for exhibitions and for primary research in architecture. Available by appointment, the collection welcomes students, scholars and professionals.
Avery Library also produces the Avery Index to Architectural Periodicals. Begun in 1934, it is the most extensive periodical index in the field of architecture and provides citations to more than 700,000 articles in architectural and related periodicals. The Avery Index is accessible to students as one of the databases offered through the Columbia Libraries website.
Avery Library began a long-awaited process of renovation and expansion in 2003. Phase one consisted of the creation of a new Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Study Center for Art and Architecture, equipped with new storage, processing and study facilities for Avery’s Drawings and Archives collection and for the University’s art properties. Avery’s ground floor reading room, designed in 1911 by William Mitchell Kendall of the McKim, Mead and White firm, was also renovated and re-named the Miriam and Ira D. Wallach Reading Room. It is linked to the Wallach Study Center by a 1970s underground extension designed by the late Professor Alexander Kouzmanoff. Avery is now working on Phase two renovations to the 1974 Kouzmanoff extension. Upgrades to technology offerings, seating, environmental controls and collection arrangements will be introduced incrementally each year.