Loyola University Chicago

University Archives & Special Collections

Cudahy Library history

Designed by noted Chicago architect Andrew N. Rebori in the art deco/moderne style, the Elizabeth M. Cudahy Memorial Library was dedicated on June 8, 1930. It was the gift of Edward A. Cudahy to Loyola University in honor of his wife, Elizabeth M. Cudahy.

The main reading room is 101 feet long by 44 feet wide and 40 feet high and was designed to have a seating capacity of 200. The interior walls of the room are faced with Mankato stone while the windows are of leaded glass in soft color tones. A clear span ceiling of monolithic reinforced concrete arch and cantilever construction is finished with ornamental concrete surfaces treated in a colorful design and concealed lighting runs around the inner rim of the cantilever portion of the ceiling. Over the years the reading room has had the nickname of the "Echo Chamber" because of the acoustics. Since 2010 it has acquired another nickname—the "Harry Potter Room." In 2012 the reading room was officially named the "Donovan Reading Room" in memory of Loyola alumna Willouise A. Donovan (BA '39).

The original plans for the library called for stack space which could ultimately hold 250,000 volumes and each stack room level would be arranged with a series of cubicles by the windows; a periodical room faced Lake Michigan on the east end of the building; and a 'treasure room' for rare and precious volumes by the reading room. In addition there were ten study rooms, and a lecture/class room. When the Loyola library moved from its location in the previous Administration Building (later referred to as the 'Jes Res' and demolished in 2007) to the new Cudahy Library it held 150,000 volumes. Today, the University Library collections at Cudahy Library and Lewis Library alone total 942,996 volumes, with 681,320 of those volumes housed in Cudahy Library.

Original Doors

Known today as the 'ceremonial' or 'green' door today, the south entrance is the original entrance to Cudahy Library. Upon entering through the south door faculty and students passed the office of the Library Director and went into the reading room. Here they would find not only study space but the card catalog and the circulation desk. Books were kept in 'closed' stacks, i.e. students could not browse the stacks like they can today so they had to request books which were then pulled and brought to the circulation desk. In 2009 the tradition of walking through the south door of Cudahy Library was started as part of the First Year Convocation.

Additions to Cudahy Library

In 1969 a wrap-around addition was put on the original Elizabeth M. Cudahy Memorial Library. This $3 million library addition increased the seating capacity of the library by 211% and book capacity by 170%. It allowed for an open stack system, i.e. students were now allowed to browse the stacks and no longer had to request books, and provided space for the D'Arcy Gallery, audio-visual rooms, study carrels, and more group study rooms. A west entrance to the Library was added, thus eliminating the need to use the original south entrance to the library. A tour of the new addition was given on June 3, 1969.

In 2008 the newest addition to the library, the Klarcheck Information Commons, opened. The 'IC' is connected to the Elizabeth M. Cudahy Memorial Library via a walkway that houses a cafe. The walk way goes through what was originally the periodical room. Once again the entrance to Cudahy Library was changed with the west entrance closing and the main entrance being routed through the 'IC'.

Next: Cudahy Library Reading Room Mural