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IU Foundation receives $10.9 million grant to support Lilly Library renovation



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Rebecca Baumann holds up a piece of latex with words printed on it from the book "Lay Text" in 2018. A $10.9 million grant through the IU Foundation from Lilly Endowment Inc. will be used to support renovations to the Lilly Library. Mallory Smith Buy Photos

A $10.9 million grant through the IU Foundation from Lilly Endowment Inc. will be used to support renovations to Lilly Library.

A growth in collection size as well as increasing demands from scholars and students to use the library’s collections have placed a strain on the building, according to a press release.

The grant will fund upgrades to the library’s mechanical systems, equipment, fire safety systems, disability access, navigation systems and space configuration.

“Printed materials are among the most commonly surviving artifacts of history and offer transformational, hands-on learning,” said Carolyn Walters, Ruth Lilly Dean of University Libraries, in the release. “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.”

The library was founded in 1960 to contain the private collection of businessman Josiah K. Lilly Jr., which included more than 20,000 rare books and 17,000 manuscripts. Now, the library contains more than 450,000 rare books, 8.5 million manuscripts and 150,000 sheets of music.

The collection also includes one of the 22 Gutenberg Bibles that still exist, the first printed edition of “The Canterbury Tales” as well as personal collections from authors such as Orson Welles and Sylvia Plath.

“The Lilly Library is one of our campus treasures,” IU Provost Lauren Robel said in the release. “The renovation will support more scholarly interactions with relevant rare books, personal letters and photographs, among many other historically important objects.”

Renovations are expected to begin later this year and will close the library for about 18 months.

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