January 23, 2022

Indiana University Receives $10.9 Million Grant From Lilly Endowment to Renovate Lilly Library

From Indiana University Bloomington:

Lilly Endowment Inc. has awarded the Indiana University Foundation a $10.9 million grant to support renovation of the university’s internationally renowned Lilly Library, IU President Michael A. McRobbie has announced.


The Lilly Library on the IU Bloomington campus.

The Lilly Library now contains more than 450,000 rare books, 8.5 million manuscripts and 150,000 sheets of music. Part of the IU Libraries, the venerable limestone building is in the heart of IU Bloomington’s Fine Arts Plaza, the campus’s center for the arts and humanities.

“Indiana University’s Lilly Library is a state, national and international treasure, and a testament to the vision and generosity of J.K. Lilly Jr.,” McRobbie said. “It has always been universally acclaimed for its unique, world-class collections. Its vibrant and stunning materials continue to astonish all those who use them.


As IU rapidly approaches its bicentennial celebration, the Lilly Library has been challenged in many ways by its own success. Growth in collection size and student enrollment, along with continuously increasing demands of scholars and students who travel from around the U.S. and the world to use the library’s matchless collections, have resulted in a level of activity that the building can no longer sustain. The library has not had any significant interior renovation since its completion nearly 60 years ago.

The Lilly Endowment grant will support major upgrades to the 52,516-square-foot facility’s mechanical systems and lighting, technological equipment, fire protection and security systems, ADA access and building navigation, and space configuration. These improvements will enable maximum preservation and an enhanced and more modern presentation of the library’s literary and cultural treasures, which require special handling and can only be accessed in secure on-site areas. They will also allow students, scholars, researchers, educators and other visitors to more effectively access and experience the library’s one-of-a-kind materials, which are frequently and increasingly incorporated by IU faculty into their teaching, research and creative activities.

According to Lilly Library director Joel Silver, courses taught on site have increased by more than 225 percent since 1992. In 1960, the Lilly Library’s total collection numbered approximately 100,000 rare books and 1 million manuscripts. Today, the book collection has increased 350 percent, and the manuscript collection has grown 750 percent.


IU Libraries’ website also includes a brief history on the Lilly Library.

Comment From Carolyn Walters, Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries: “Printed materials are among the most commonly surviving artifacts of history and offer transformational, hands-on learning. The Lilly Library is so much more than a building, and yet, our value is inherently tied to the people and spaces that encourage interaction with our materials. We are grateful to Lilly Endowment. This grant will ensure we have the right environment to present and preserve these treasures long into the future.”

Read the Complete Funding Announcement

Direct to Lilly Library Renovation Project Website

About Gary Price

Gary Price (gprice@mediasourceinc.com) is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at Ask.com, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.