Our Library at 50

Exeter's heart of discovery and transformation

On the morning of Nov. 16, 1971, hundreds of Exeter students reported to the Davis Library for duty. Their charge: Take tens of thousands of books from the shelves of the stately-but-overburdened building and carry them a hundred paces or so to their new home next door. The effort, in essence, was a relay from Exeter's past into its future.

The new library — eventually to be named the Class of 1945 Library — was a towering new structure in the heart of campus that could be considered a brick-and-concrete monument to a critical period for the Academy. Only a year earlier had Exeter transitioned to a coeducational institution. Girls were among the volunteers in the book brigade that morning, and the school was amidst an era of metamorphosis as it neared its bicentennial. This new library stood as a symbol of the new Exeter.

Fifty years later, our library remains a place for transformation, "a beacon" to new generations of students who seek to discover themselves and their world. The committee of faculty tasked with envisioning a new library more than a half-century ago believed that "the quality of a library, by inspiring a superior faculty and attracting superior students, determines the effectiveness of a school." As our beloved Class of 1945 Library turns 50, we are pleased and proud to report they got it absolutely right.

Take a look around

Explore Rockefeller Hall in 360. 

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When I walked inside and climbed the stairs into the ethereal light of the great hall, it was a transcendent experience, a moment of awe and disbelief. How could anything so plain be so beautiful? How could a space be so empty and yet so full?"
J. Scott Finn '73

More to explore

The design

“The emphasis should not be on housing books but on housing readers using books."

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The man behind the building.

A 'beacon' for Exeter

Architects weigh in on what makes a masterpiece.

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Library chronology

Exeter's libraries have evolved through the generations.

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The Class of 1945 Library may be the most picturesque place on a campus filled with them.