The Project

Beginning in August 2019, Houghton Library will undergo a major renovation of its facilities in order to provide broader access to the collections. This will be the most extensive renovation to the building in its 77-year history, resulting in improved physical accessibility; a more welcoming environment for students, faculty, researchers, visitors, and staff; and enhanced spaces for research and teaching.

view from Loeb House
aerial view

Major changes will include:

  • A new and accessible entryway that will make entering Houghton more welcoming, intuitive, and easy to navigate. The staircases to the main entrance will be replaced by a set of elegant paths with a gradual incline, as well as a new grand staircase leading directly into the building. A plaza outside the building will serve as a small gathering place and improve pedestrian navigation of the Yard.
  • New exhibition and display spaces in the Houghton lobby that will showcase a more dynamic and varied selection of items from the collection to inspire research and learning.
  • A new visitor elevator that will enable everyone to access all floors of the building, including exhibition and classroom spaces on the second floor and restrooms on the ground floor.
  • Enclosed spaces for consultation and group study in the Houghton Reading Room that will provide opportunities for different kinds of engagement between researchers, librarians, and collections, as well as quieter space for research in the main reading room. 
  • New lockers, coatroom, and other amenities to improve researcher, student, and visitor experience.
  • New infrastructure and approaches to enhance collection security while at the same time creating a more welcoming environment.

Construction will begin in September 2019, requiring the building to close its doors for a year. During the renovation, the library will maintain researcher access to its collections in a temporary reading room in what is currently the Widener Library Current Periodicals Reading Room. During the renovation, we will use classrooms in Pusey and Widener Libraries for teaching with Houghton collections. 

Periodic updates to this exciting and important project will be made in this space.  If you have questions related to the renovation, please direct them to