Bizzell Memorial Library

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Bizzell Library, University of Oklahoma
The original entrance to Bizzell Memorial Library
Bizzell Memorial Library is located in Oklahoma
Bizzell Memorial Library
Location 401 W. Brooks Street, Norman, Oklahoma
Coordinates 35°12′28″N 97°26′44″W / 35.20778°N 97.44556°W / 35.20778; -97.44556Coordinates: 35°12′28″N 97°26′44″W / 35.20778°N 97.44556°W / 35.20778; -97.44556
Architect Layton Hicks & Forsyth
NRHP Reference # 01000071
Significant dates
Added to NRHP January 3, 2001[1]
Designated NHL January 3, 2001[2]

The Bizzell Memorial Library, known also as Bizzell Library, is located at the University of Oklahoma in Norman, Oklahoma. It was designed by the architecture firm Layton Hicks & Forsyth, and constructed in 1929 during the administration of OU's fifth president, William Bennett Bizzell. It is an elaborate Collegiate Gothic building and is a National Historic Landmark of the United States.[3]

It is nationally significant for its association with the racial desegregation court case of George McLaurin, a black man who was at first denied admission to the University of Oklahoma's law school solely on the basis of race. After a court ruling, he was admitted, but under separate but equal doctrine he was given a desk in the mezzanine of this building, rather than being allowed use of the regular reading room. He appealed the segregation up to the U.S. Supreme Court, in McLaurin v. Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education.[3] In this and a companion case, the Supreme Court ruled against the segregation. This was a precedent for the more famous 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case later.

Under George Lynn Cross, the University's seventh president, a 1958 addition effectively tripled the size of the structure.

Bizzell Library sits at the heart of the university's Norman campus.

After a generous donation by Doris W. Neustadt, a 1982 addition was completed during the William Banowsky administration. Presently, Bizzell serves as the flagship research library in the state of Oklahoma and of the University's system of eight libraries on the Norman campus that hold a combined 4.2 million volumes. Bizzell also houses the University Libraries administration, History of Science, Nichols Rare Books, Bass Business and Bizzell Bible Special Collections and the University of Oklahoma School of Library and Information Studies.

For its association with segregation and the court case overturning it, the building was declared a National Historic Landmark in 2001.[2][3]

The University of Oklahoma Library System is a member of the Association of Research Libraries and is the second largest system of libraries in the Big 12 Conference.


  1. ^ "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places. National Park Service. 2007-01-23. 
  2. ^ a b "Bizzell Library". National Historic Landmark summary listing. National Park Service. Retrieved 2008-01-18. 
  3. ^ a b c Susan Cianci Salvatore (September 1, 2001) National Historic Landmark Nomination: Bizzell Library, University of Oklahoma, National Park Service and Accompanying 4 photos, exterior and interior, undated.