History of the University of Arizona Libraries

Old Main constructed 1891

Classes began at the University of Arizona on October 1, 1891. The library was located in the basement of Old Main.

By 1902, the collection had grown to 6,000 volumes and 70 periodicals. With limited space, Old Main could no longer serve as the campus library. 

Douglas built 1904

The library was located on the second floor, created to "serve all needs for all times to come." In 1904, Estelle Lutrell was hired as the first full-time librarian, and by the time she arrived, a new Library and Museum Building (now called Douglass) was being constructed. She oversaw the move into this facility during 1904-05. 

Arizona State Museum opened 1927

Modeled after the Boston Public Library and featured the UA red-brick-and-roof-tile architecture. One unique feature of the reading porch was that Estelle strictly upheld her "no smoking" rule in an era when smoking a was widely accepted social activity. The building is now the Arizona State Museum - North. 

Main Library opened 1977

The exterior of the Main Library.

With more than 9 million volumes and state-of-the-art technology, library users have access to information resources worldwide.

In 2002, the Information Commons on the 1st floor (extending underground into the new Integrated Learning Center) and an addition to the 5th floor opened. 

Fine Arts Library

Established branch in 1959, closed in 2023.

The exterior of the the Music Building, which houses the Fine Arts Library

Science-Engineering Library

Opened in 1963

Photo of the Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library

Health Sciences Library

Established branch in 2013

The exterior of the Health Sciences Library

Weaver Science-Engineering Library

A large, five-story library, the Science-Engineering Library has significant collections and study space, and is just two buildings down from the Main Library. A $7 million gift from the Frederick Gardner Cottrell Foundation led to a renaming to the Albert B. Weaver Science-Engineering Library in 2018. Learn about Albert B. Weaver.

Health Sciences Library

Planning for the Health Sciences Library began two years before the opening of the College of Medicine in September 1967. In 2007, the Arizona Health Sciences Library on the Phoenix Biomedical Campus (PBC) opened to support the UA College of Medicine-Phoenix. The two libraries work in close partnership to support health professions education and programs throughout the state.

University Librarians & Deans

Howard J Hall 1891-1904
Headshot of Estelle Lutrell
Estell Lutrell 1904-1932
Headshot of Rudolph H. Gjelsness
Rudolph H. Gjelsness 1932 - 1937
William Carlson 1937-1942
Frederick N. Cromwell 1943-1952
Fleming Bennett 1952-1964
Robert K. Johnson 1964-1972
W. David Laird 1972-1990
Carla J Stoffle 1990-2013
Karen Williams 2013-2017
Shan Sutton 2017-present