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Harold B. Lee Library[edit]

Harold B. Lee Library
Harold B. Lee Library.jpg
The iconic glass atrium that acts as the library's main entrance.
Country USA
Type Academic library
Established 1961 (1961)
Location Provo, Utah
Coordinates 40°14′57″N 111°38′57″W / 40.24917°N 111.64917°W / 40.24917; -111.64917Coordinates: 40°14′57″N 111°38′57″W / 40.24917°N 111.64917°W / 40.24917; -111.64917
Size 9.82M (As of 2011)[1]
Access and use
Circulation 536,000 (As of 2011)[2]
Population served Brigham Young University
Other information
Director Jennifer Paustenbaugh[3]
Staff 352 FTE (As of 2011)

The Harold B. Lee Library (HBLL), located in Provo, Utah, is the main academic library of Brigham Young University (BYU), the largest religious and second-largest private university in the United States.[4][5][6] The university library has been moved several times since its inception. The current building was opened in 1961, and (since 1974) is named for Harold B. Lee, former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. After two major expansions, the building is more than 665,000 square feet (61,800 m2) and contains approximately 98 miles (158 km) of shelving for the nearly 3.9 million items in its physical collections.[citation needed]


The HBLL began as a small collection of books kept in the office of Karl G. Maeser during his time as Principal of then-Brigham Young Academy. The small library relied almost exclusively on gifts, donations, and free material from the U.S. Government. When Maeser's office was destroyed by a fire in 1884, his library collection went with it. By the time the Education Building was completed in 1892, a new library had been formed and a room was provided on the second floor of the new building.

Students studying in the Periodicals section of the HBLL

The academy later became a university, which spurred the library's growth until it filled the third floor and much of the second floor of the Education building. In July 1924, the alumni association reported that $125,000 had been appropriated to construct a new library building to be erected on University Hill. The resulting library was named after church president Heber J. Grant, and was dedicated on October 15, 1925. At the time, the library collection contained 40,000 books and 35,000 pamphlets.

By 1950, the collection had long since outgrown the Heber J. Grant Library, and books were stored in almost all campus buildings. The lack of adequate space in the Grant Library lead to the location of libraries in other buildings on campus during the 1950s. The Physical Science Library was housed in the Eyring Science Center from the opening of that building in 1950. In 1957 when the Joseph F. Smith Family Living Center was opened it contained the life science library on the first floor and the music library on the third floor. The pre-1940 bound periodicals were being stored in the basement of the Joseph Smith Memorial Building. The reserve library was located in the David O. McKay building while the attics of the Maeser Building and the Women's gymnasium used for storage as well as a warehouse in down town Provo.[7]

Ernest L. Wilkinson, the university president at the time, appointed a faculty committee to survey library needs in January 1953. As a result of the study, the J. Reuben Clark Library was constructed to help accommodate the growing collections of the Grant Library. In 1961, 300,000 volumes were moved into the Clark Library although the building was not dedicated until October 10, 1962.[8] The Heber J. Grant Library was

"Of all the wonderful buildings that we have on [the BYU] campus, none, I believe, is as important as the library. A library is the very heart and substance of a university."

Gordon B. Hinckley[9]

The new library was designed by Lorenzo Snow Young with Keyes D. Metcalf, Librarian-emeritus of Harvard serving as a counsultant. It was built by the Garff, Ryberg, and Garff Construction Company. Another key figure in the planning and building of the library was Dr. S. Lyman Tyler who at the time was the director of the BYU Library.[10]

In 1973 the name of the J. Reuben Clark Library was changed to the Harold B. Lee Library in honor of the former president of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. In order to keep up with the needs of the academic community and the Church, construction began in 1974 on a library addition of 215,000 square feet (20,000 m2). This addition was occupied in the summer of 1976 and dedicated March 15, 1977.[11]

As the University continued to grow, so did the library collections and need for additional space. To help fill this need, ground was broken on September 20, 1996 for another addition to the Library. In the four years of construction, roughly 235,000 square feet (21,800 m2) were added to the library, most of it underground. When the new addition was dedicated on November 15, 2000, the library was 665,000 square feet (61,800 m2).[9] Since then, the Library has focused more on digital expansion, adding access to several electronic books and scholarly databases from on- and off-campus.[12] Today, the library is supported by 351 full-time equivalent employees.[13]


BYU Special Collections

The HBLL includes a family history library, the Primrose International Viola Library (named for William Primrose),[14] the International Harp Archives,[15] and serves as a designated depository of government documents. In January 2010 the juvenile literature department opened its Lloyd Alexander Collection, featuring items from the author's home office for students and researchers to access.[16]

Of particular note is the L. Tom Perry Special Collections Library. Named after LDS Church leader L. Tom Perry, the facility preserves and makes available rare unique library materials in original and digital forms. The library holds 350,000 rare books and print matter, over 1,000,000 photographs, and 10,000 manuscript and archival collections. The library also offers numerous exhibits, lectures, tours, and conferences related to its holdings.[17] The collection includes a 1967 Biblia Sacra illustrated by Salvador Dalí, a 1555 Biblia translated by Martin Luther, a 13th-century hand-copied Latin Vulgate Bible, a Turkish New Testament from 1905, a page from the Bible produced by Johannes Gutenberg in about 1450, and four first-edition copies of the Book of Mormon. Other artifacts include four 4,000-year-old cuneiform tablets, six Oscars, and ten Ansel Adams photographs.[18]

In 1983, after the commercial flop of The Magic of Lassie, Jimmy Stewart went into semi-retirement and donated his papers, films, and other records to the Harold B. Lee Library

Media attention and awards[edit]

In July 2010, the HBLL received nationwide attention for a parody on an Old Spice commercial that was filmed inside the library that went viral.[19] In April 2011, a cappella group Vocal Point recorded the music video for their rendition of "Jump, Jive, an' Wail" in the HBLL.[20] In August 2011, the HBLL produced a video that advertised the library by using Hip-Hop music, which is a genre popular among youths. This video encouraged more students to study at the library, by using lyrics that explained, "You gotta be scholar, let me hear a scholastic holla, put your grades up, put your grades up."[21]


  1. ^ "Library Statistics (General)". Brigham Young University. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013. 
  2. ^ "Library Statistics (Circulation)". Brigham Young University. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013. 
  3. ^ Kling, Chadra (27 Mar 2013). "OSU's Jennifer Paustenbaugh named University Librarian at BYU". BYU News (Press release). Brigham Young University. Retrieved 17 Aug 2013. 
  4. ^ Naparsteck, Martin. "The Lord's University". Salt Lake Tribune. Archived from the original on December 13, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-01. 
  5. ^ Freedman, Jamie L. (2004-07-01). "GW Law's Utah Connection". GW Magazine. GW Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-01.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  6. ^ "UoP About Us". Illustrates BYU second only to UoP in private school enrollment. University of Phoenix. Archived from the original on June 13, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-03. 
  7. ^ Wilkinson, Ernest L. and Leonard J. Arrington, ed., Brigham Young University: The First 100 Years (Provo: BYU Press, 1976) p. 21-23
  8. ^ "BYU Law School". LexisNexis. Retrieved 2008-05-14. 
  9. ^ a b Cite error: The named reference HBLLhistory was invoked but never defined (see the help page).
  10. ^ Wilkinson and Arrington, ed., BYU: the 1st 100 years, Vol. 3, p. 23-24
  11. ^ "Case Study". S-T Imaging, Inc. Retrieved 2008-05-15.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  12. ^ "A Library for the World". BYU Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-24. 
  13. ^ "HBLL Stats". Brigham Young University. Archived from the original on 2008-05-09. Retrieved 2008-05-15. 
  14. ^ "The American Viola Society Celebrates Thirty Years". American Viola Society. Retrieved 2008-05-15.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  15. ^ "15th National Competition & Anne Adams Awards Auditions". American Harp Society. Archived from the original on November 2, 2007. Retrieved 2008-05-15.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  16. ^ December 19, 2009 news release from the library's website about the Lloyd Alexander Collection
  17. ^ "[[L. Tom Perry]] Special Collections Homepage". Brigham Young University. Retrieved 2008-05-15.  URL–wikilink conflict (help)
  18. ^ McClellan, Jeff (2001-06-01). "Collected Memory". BYU Magazine. Retrieved 2008-05-15.  External link in |publisher= (help)
  19. ^ "Parody of Old Spice guy goes viral". CNN. 19 July 2010. Retrieved 20 July 2010. 
  20. ^ "BYU's Vocal Point a cappella group celebrates 20 years". BYU. Retrieved 10 April 2011. 
  21. ^ "Gotta Be Scholar". YouTube. 25 Aug 2011.  Unknown parameter | ignored (help);

External links[edit]

Category:University and college academic libraries in the United States BYU Library Category:Libraries in Utah Library, Harold B. Lee Category:Libraries established in 1925 Category:Library buildings completed in 1961 Category:Library buildings completed in 1976 Category:Library buildings completed in 2000 Category:Brigham Young University buildings Category:1961 establishments in Utah