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Duke receives $10 million to renovate Lilly Library

One of Duke's oldest buildings will soon have a new feel.

President Vincent Price announced Thursday that three gifts amounting to a combined $10 million will be put toward changes to Lilly Library. The renovation will update and enhance the building's lighting, technology and furnishings to meet current safety and accessibility standards. 

It will also create new collaborative spaces, such as tutoring space for the Thompson Writing Program, event space for the FOCUS program and an exhibit gallery.

The donations comes from Lilly Endowment Inc., Irene and William McCutchen and the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation and Virginia and Peter Nichols.

“Duke Libraries offers our community a wealth of information and resources to further educational growth and learning,” Price said in the news release. “We are so grateful for the generosity of the McCutchen and Nicholas families and Lilly Endowment, which will renew one of our most treasured campus buildings and enhance the experience of everyone who comes through its doors.” 

According to a Duke Today news release, Lilly Library is named after philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the great-grandchild of pharmaceutical mogul Eli Lilly. Ruth Lilly sponsored the first significant renovation to the library since it was built in 1927. 

Her gift helped "renovate and computerize" the library where her nieces, sisters Irene “Renie” Lilly McCutchen and Virginia “Ginny” Lilly Nicholas, spent time as they attended the Woman’s College, graduating in 1962 and 1964, respectively. In fact, the Nicholas School of the Environment is named after Ginny and Peter Nicholas. 

Lilly Library was Duke's first library on East Campus and opened in 1927. It was the Woman's College Library until the Woman's College merged with Trinity College of Arts and Sciences in 1972. It was renamed the East Campus Library at this time until it was rededicated in 1993 to honor Ruth Lilly.


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