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Duke University

Landmark gifts support much-needed Lilly Library renovation

How can you keep the best of the past and ensure that it will be useful in the future? Duke University Libraries has a plan.

The proposed renovated building will feature several new spaces for collaborative research and academic services, such as a writing studio for the Thompson Writing Program, event space, a student-testing facility and a maker space. 

The Libraries received a lead gift of $10 million for the renovation and expansion of Lilly Library on East Campus, one of Duke’s oldest and most architecturally significant buildings and the Libraries’ top fundraising priority. The gift to Duke is comprised of three gifts: a $5 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc., $2.5 million from Bill B.S.C.E.’62 and Renie McCutchen ’62, P’86 and the Ruth Lilly Philanthropic Foundation, and $2.5 million from Peter ’64 and Ginny Nicholas ’64, P’89, P’92, P’94, GP’21, GP’23. This generous gift represents approximately one-fourth of the projected renovation cost.  

The planned work will nearly double the square feet of the building and update facility needs — including enhanced lighting, technology infrastructure and furnishings — to meet today’s standards of safety, accessibility, usability and service. Anticipated changes will also extend to the elegant Thomas, Few and Carpenter reading rooms while maintaining the charm and character of these favorite spaces.