Located in the heart of the IU campus, the library can no longer sustain the level of activity associated with the growth in the size of its collection or the university's student population, with the number of courses taught in the building having increased more than 225 percent since 1992. Awarded to the Indiana University Foundation, the grant will support a reconfiguration of the space and upgrades to the building's mechanical, lighting, fire protection, and ADA access systems, as well as the purchase of tech equipment to improve access for students, researchers, educators, and scholars.
Established in 1960 to house the collection of Josiah K. Lilly, Jr., a founder of the Lily Endowment, the library contains more than 450,000 rare books, 8.5 million manuscripts, and 150,000 sheets of music. Other materials include a Gutenberg New Testament, the first printed edition of The Canterbury Tales, Thomas Jefferson's personal copy of the first printing of the U.S. Bill of Rights, a First Folio of William Shakespeare's complete works, and the personal archives of notable cultural icons, including Orson Welles, Sylvia Plath, Kurt Vonnegut, Jr., and Ngũgĩ wa Thiong'o.
"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.," said IU president Michael A. McRobbie. "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. With this extraordinary support from Lilly Endowment Inc., the Lilly Library will greatly improve its ability to provide wide access to the library's rare books, manuscripts, and objects to broader audiences — from children to lifelong learners and scholars — enhancing all of our communities."