Stanford University

News Service



Renovated Green Library to be dedicated Oct. 12; features 21st-century information services

Stanford unveils the library of the future Oct. 12 ­ in an 80-year-old landmark building.

On that day the old Main Library will be re-inaugurated as the Bing Wing of the Cecil H. Green Library after an extensive restoration and seismic upgrade. The reopening signals the completion of all major reconstruction at Stanford following the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The dedication takes place at 3 p.m. at the front steps of the Bing Wing, opposite the university's Main Quadrangle. The building's name recognizes donors Peter S. and Helen L. Bing for their substantial contributions to the Restoration Fund.

The 172,000-square-foot Bing Wing, formerly the west wing of the Main Library, occupies a 1919 building designed by the famed San Francisco architectural firm Bakewell & Brown. The renovation project also includes a technological upgrade and interior reconfiguration of the first floor of the library's East Wing, which opened in 1980 as an addition to the original structure.

The current reconstruction, at a cost of nearly $50 million, involved a full earthquake retrofit of the main library building, restoration of interior spaces altered during earlier renovations, and the installation of electronic capabilities that signal a new era in the evolution of libraries as centers for the delivery of information in multiple forms.

"In this reconstruction of Stanford's original Main Library, we have attempted to be true to the simple, Romanesque Revival grandeur of the building, while accounting for the incredible changes in the university, its libraries and the world around in the intervening years since its construction," said Michael A. Keller, the Ida M. Green University Librarian and Director of Academic Information Resources. "We have tried as well to accommodate the unforeseeable possibilities of the future."

At the same time that the restored original library is opening, a new model for providing information services is being provided to library users. A newly created Information Center in the East Wing, the first stop for library users seeking general information and reference referrals, will serve as a highly wired hub for rapid access to materials. Two new Resource Centers in the Bing Wing ­ the Humanities and Area Studies Resource Center and the Social Sciences Resource Center ­ feature reading rooms, collections and services for advanced reference needs.

"Millions of books are being returned to the shelves, thousands of circuits activated, hundreds of staff moved, and whole new programs, long in planning, are getting under way," Keller said. "Our information technology staff will implement new ways to bring more books and information resources to Stanford's physical and virtual shelves faster and cheaper, improving and extending the reach and grasp of readers, faculty and students."

Study areas, such as the monumental Lane Reading Room ­ a grand traditional space bathed in natural light ­ are now fully wired, with all desks equipped with outlets for personal computers. Some 20 librarian subject specialists will assist in the use of library technology, data services, Internet access and other aids for research and teaching, such as sending information and lecture programs out over the Internet.

The Libraries' information services are fully available to the Stanford community of faculty, students and researchers. Library facilities and collections are also open to Palo Alto residents on a limited basis; there is general public access to the depository of U.S. government documents.

The Main Library at Stanford opened for use on July 14, 1919. Construction was originally undertaken at the turn of the 19th century, but the partially erected library was demolished in the 1906 earthquake. In 1917, excavation began for a new library, designed by Arthur Brown Jr. and John Bakewell Jr., in accord with the latest developments in library design, concept, aesthetics and use. These included monumental well-lit reading rooms, reference areas and smaller spaces for seminar instruction.

Brown's design for the library building, which is situated along a principal axis to the Main Quad, conformed to Frederick Law Olmsted's overall design plan for the Stanford campus. A key architectural feature of the building is an entrance façade of San Jose sandstone with relief figures carved over the portals depicting Art, Philosophy and Science. Inside, a broad formal stairway leads to the Munger Rotunda on the second floor under a high central dome, and to the Lane Reading Room. The room's 30-foot-high ceiling incorporates a huge laylight, which was covered over early in World War II to black out evening light and is now newly revealed to admit natural light from overhead skylights.

Brown, the sole design partner for the project, is renowned for his designs of numerous historic buildings in the Bay Area, including San Francisco City Hall (1915), the State Office Building (1922) and the War Memorial Opera House (1932).

Stanford's library facilities expanded in 1967 with the opening of Meyer Library. In 1980, the East Wing of the Cecil H. Green Library opened, adjoining the old Main Library, which was renovated as Green Library West. In a later update, completed in 1988, the tiered stacks of the West Wing were structurally and environmentally modernized. In 1989, the Bing Wing, then Green Library West, was one of the worst damaged buildings at Stanford in the Loma Prieta earthquake ­ due mainly to the hollow clay tiles used in the original construction ­ yet its collections remained intact. After the earthquake, all volumes were removed and the upper floors abandoned; the building was totally closed in 1993.

The resulting renovation and earthquake retrofit coincided with two major developments that influenced its concept and design ­ the rapid evolution of the Internet and digital technologies over the past 10 years; and the 1995 earthquake in Kobe, Japan, which radically altered thinking regarding seismic reinforcement of buildings. Architecture for the renovation was overseen by Fields & Devereaux Associates of Los Angeles, with interiors by Brayton & Hughes of San Francisco in collaboration with the architects. The Bing Wing renovation, along with other architectural restorations on the Stanford campus, earned Stanford the 1999 Governor's Historic Preservation Award for historical landmarks.

For more information, visit the website of the Stanford University Libraries at

Free public tours are offered of the newly renovated Bing Wing and the Information Center in the East Wing of the Cecil H. Green Library on the following dates. Sign-up is not necessary; tours are conducted on a first-come, first-served basis and are limited to 15 people per tour. A tour guide will meet participants at the scheduled time outside the South Lobby entrance of the East Wing (opposite Meyer Library).

Oct. 4, 10 a.m.

Oct. 5, 2 p.m.

Oct. 6, 10 a.m.

Oct. 7, 2 p.m.

Oct. 8-9, 10 a.m.

Oct. 11, 10 a.m.

Oct. 13, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m.

Oct. 14, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 3 p.m.

Oct. 15, 10 a.m., 11 a.m., 2 p.m., 3 p.m.

Oct. 16, 11 a.m.

Oct. 17, 2 p.m.



© Stanford University. All Rights Reserved. Stanford, CA 94305. (650) 723-2300. Terms of Use  |  Copyright Complaints