The Butler University Libraries make available the materials needed to support study, teaching, and research in all areas of intellectual endeavor pursued at Butler. There are two libraries on campus. The Irwin Library includes the business; education and curriculum resources; liberal arts; and performing and fine arts collections. The Ruth Lilly Science Library houses materials supporting studies in the fields of computer, mathematics, pharmaceutical, physical, biological and behavioral sciences. The combined holdings of the Butler Libraries include access to approximately 500,000 e-books, 200 databases, 35,000 electronic journal subscriptions, 225,000 print materials, 16,000 audiovisual materials, and more than 17,000 musical scores.

The Libraries’ mission and strategic plan can be found in full below. The strategic initiatives were developed to guide our work to update the facilities, services, and collections to meet the evolving needs of Butler University students and faculty, while also respecting the core principles of librarianship that built the Libraries over their history. Core initiatives guiding our work are a focus on improving and growing information literacy instruction, re-allocating resources to improve our facilities and balance our collections, improve the learning spaces we offer, promote and support new models of scholarly communication, and practice more effective outreach to campus, alumni, and the community to increase awareness and support of library initiatives.

See the Libraries’ most recent annual report (for 2016-17) for more current details.


Butler University Libraries advance the academic mission of the University by providing expertise, resources, and services that stimulate learning. Central to our mission is preparing undergraduate students to navigate a complex information environment.

The libraries also have a responsibility to support teaching and scholarship, to promote the ethical use and creation of information, and to preserve the intellectual heritage that is at the core of the University.

In the fall of 2012, the Butler University Libraries met to develop a new strategic plan and accompanying initiatives. The results of those discussions produced guiding strategic priorities for library efforts, organized into three-year cycles of strategic plans since that first year. The three-year strategic plan’s initiatives are then refreshed yearly. The most recent strategic plan document was produced in FY16-17.

Following the adoption of the 2013-2016 Strategic Plan, library faculty and staff worked to develop a new collection policy based on the plan and its initiatives. The new policy document was finalized and adopted in August of 2013.

For information about the library’s participation in the Academic Libraries of Indiana’s Shared Print Initiatives, see the Redefining Collections and Spaces FAQ.


Irwin Library, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, and constructed by Carl M. Geupel, opened for use on September 9, 1963.  The library was dedicated on May 1, 1965, in honor of Benjamin Irwin, one of the founding Trustees of the university, and his family. The Irwin-Sweeney-Miller family of Columbus, IN had been connected with the university all but 13 years since its 1850 founding and, through their Irwin-Sweeney-Miller Foundation donated $1.5 million of the total $2.25 million cost of the design and construction of the building.

Irwin Library is Indiana’s only Yamasaki-designed building, and features distinctive design elements Yamasaki used in the early to mid-1960s:

  • White as the primary color; pre-cast concrete and white quartz conglomerate
  • Arches and vaults from Gothic and Eastern architecture
  • Strong vertical elements, including narrow, high windows
  • Colonnades or loggias with weight-bearing columns
  • Buildings resting on platforms, pediments, or pedestals
  • Decorative metal railings and screens

Yamasaki wanted those entering his buildings to experience a sense of repose, surprise, and delight. Skylights, windows, vaults, and screens create a changing “play of light and shadow” inside and outside his buildings. These elements, plus water features and landscaping, bring nature into his structures.

For more information and photos of the construction and dedication of Irwin, please see the digital exhibit created by the Libraries for the building’s 50th anniversary in 2013.

The Ruth Lilly Science Library is located in the heart of the Butler University science complex, on the second floor of the Holcomb Building.  Renovated in 2020-21, the Science Library has modern furnishings, an abundance of whiteboards, study rooms, and offers 24/7 access to Butler students via card reader. A small computer lab is available, as well as six private study rooms and an instruction classroom.  A small collection of journals and books to support the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences, and the departments of biological sciences, chemistry, computer sciences, physics and astronomy, and mathematics is available, including a self-checkout machine in the secure stacks area.