The Focus of Our Community

Renowned architect Louis I. Kahn was commissioned in November 1965 to design the Academy Library. Construction began in April 1969 and was completed in November 1971. In 1996, the library was officially named the Class of 1945 Library, honoring Dr. Lewis Perry, Exeter's eighth principal (1914-1946).

Two seminar rooms on the fourth floor are available for classes and meetings, as well as several Harkness tables throughout the building. There are 210 study carrels, two group study rooms, in addition to numerous reading lounges and long tables at which students can work together. The seating capacity of the Library can accommodate nearly half the student population of the Academy.

The Library staff includes librarians, an archivist, experienced associates and assistants who serve the Academy’s faculty, students and school community with expertise in their fields. At present, the Library provides access to approximately 300,000 print and electronic volumes. The print volumes are housed on nine levels with a shelf capacity of 250,000 volumes. The reference collection on the main floor contains more than 3,000 print volumes. The Library subscribes to 275 print magazines and newspapers and 60 databases. In addition, the Library has an extensive collection of DVDs and audio CDs.

Some 12,400 volumes are separated from the general circulating collection in smaller collections, including the alumni/ae collection with more than 6,450 items. Such treasures as leaves from 13th- to 16th-century illuminated manuscripts, 16th-century wood engravings, original ships' logs, and early British and American newspapers are available for scholarly research and are displayed from time to time in special exhibits. The Library's Ottaway/Bown Adams Silent Film Library is a collection of more than 300 films produced in the United States, England, France, Germany, and Russia.

Phillips Exeter Academy embraces the ideal of Universal Access on our campus. Entrances to the library are accessible and elevators provide access to upper floors.

Library-Sponsored Programs

The Lamont Poets
The Lamont Younger Poets
Friends of the Library
Bennett Fellows

Go to the page titled Library-Sponsored Programs

Some of Our Special Collections

Phillips Exeter is fortunate to have received a number of rare books and manuscripts from donors to the Special Collections. Among the most notable of these is an early edition of Ptolemy's Geographia (1545) containing 54 double maps. Another significant item is a 15th-century French illuminated manuscript in cursive Gothic script on vellum, De Vitiis et Virtutibus by Guillaume d'Auvergne, the Bishop of Paris. This volume was the gift of Imre de Vegh, father of Pierre Jay de Vegh '54.

Alumni/ae Collection

The Faculty and Alumni/ae Collections reflect the achievements of Exeter’s scholars and artists and contain works by prominent historians, novelists, essayists, poets and playwrights. The Alumni/ae Collection contains more than 5,000 volumes and spans three centuries, beginning with a Fourth of July oration by George Sullivan 1783, delivered in Exeter in 1800. Important figures in history include Daniel Webster 1796, represented by an extensive collection of speeches, writings, and biographies; and Civil War general and one-time presidential candidate Benjamin Butler 1829.

Many graduates have made their mark writing fiction and poetry, beginning with Henry A. Shute 1875, whose young adult books entertained generations of boys and girls. Booth Tarkington 1889 and Gore Vidal ’43 are among the most prolific of alumni/ae authors in the collection. The Benchley family is represented by three writers: Robert 1908 (Of All Things), Nathaniel ’34 (Off-Islanders), and Peter ’57 (Jaws). Others of note include James Agee ’28, John Knowles ’45, Donald Hall ’47, John Irving ’61, Roland Merullo ’71, Joyce Maynard ’74, Dan Brown ’82, and Chang-Rae Lee ’83.

The Library's Mission: The Class of 1945 Library seeks to provide for all its patrons—students, faculty/staff, and Academy family—a diverse collection of materials, technology, programs, and exhibits for informational and recreational needs.

​The Library Commons

O​n Tuesday March 24th, 2015, the Class of 1945 Library celebrated the opening of The Library Commons, a transformational space to foster social interaction and unplanned collaborations.