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.
Irwin Library, designed by Minoru Yamasaki, and constructed by Carl M. Geupel, opened for use on September 9, 1963. The library was dedicated in memory of William G. Irwin, a longtime benefactor of Butler University and member of the Board of Trustees. Benjamin Irwin, a signer of the University’s founding charter in 1850, was also an ancestor of the Irwin-Sweeney-Miller family of Columbus, IN, who donated $1.5 million for 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.