Davis Family Library


The Davis Family Library was built on the site of the former Science Center, within view of the College’s historic library (now The Donald Everett Axinn '51 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies at Starr Library). Each of the library's three main levels is approximately one acre in size; the top two floors include mezzanines. There are 298 individual study carrels distributed throughout the building, many in four tower-like structures along the northern and southern faces.

The main level, which features a café and 24-hour study area near its entrance, includes information and service desks; a 30-seat lecture hall; 18-seat video conferencing seminar room; two 12-seat video viewing rooms; a video editing lab; 32 individual video viewing carrels; 36 independent study seats; two large study tables wired for network access; a portion of the circulating collection; and many staff offices.

The bulk of the circulating collection is on the upper and lower levels. The lower level also houses staff offices, two classrooms, a reading room, a meeting room, four group study areas, current and bound periodicals, the Vermont Collection, and Special Collections, which features a reading room, display cases, and archival storage.

Environmental considerations and energy efficiency were incorporated in the construction process and building design. The Library's building materials include 11,000 board feet of local certified maple and beech wood, roughly 70% of which was harvested from land at the College's Bread Loaf campus in Ripton.

Maps & Floor Plans

Work and Meeting Spaces



July 2004

Total Square Footage:

135,000 sf

Project Manager:

Tom McGinn

Project Cost:



Gwathmey Siegel & Associates Architects, New York, NY

Construction Manager:

Lee Kennedy Co Inc., Quincy, MA


American Society of Colleges and Universities, Collegiate Citation for Excellence 2007

 About the Architecture

The Davis Family Library, designed by Gwathmey Siegel & Associates, is a spacious, 143,000 square foot building located on the northeast edge of campus. The College Library was housed in portions of Old Chapel and Painter Hall until the first building dedicated to library collections and services, Egbert Starr Library (now the Donald Everett Axinn '51 Center for Literary and Cultural Studies) was opened in 1900 to mark the College’s centennial. After just over a century in that location, a new era began when the library expanded into the Davis Family Library in June 28, 2004.

The Davis Family Library is a model of environmental design. Sensitivity to environmental concerns were paramount in the construction of the building.  The carrels, reading tables and chairs, bookcase end panels, and architectural trim all use certified lumber, much of it harvested from the College's Bread Loaf campus forest in nearby Ripton. Linoleum rather than plastic or vinyl is used for counter and carrel surfaces, and the carpet is made entirely of recycled fibers. New England firms were contracted whenever possible, including Island Pond Woodworkers in Vermont's northeast kingdom for manufacture of the carrels and end panels, Windham (Maine) Woodworking for millwork, and Beeken-Parsons in Shelburne for reading tables and chairs. Automatic lighting controls and an efficient heating and air conditioning system minimize energy use.

The curved exterior bridges the campus and the community while recalling the classic shape of rotunda libraries; inside, the rounded interiors and natural hues invite serenity and contemplation. The Upper Level boasts comfortable study areas with panoramic views of the Green Mountains to the east and the campus to the west; the Main Level provides ready access to academic staff; the Lower Level contains the Harman Periodicals Reading Area and Special Collections. An airy, two-story atrium invokes the idealism of the library's mission and offers visitors a cross-sectional view of the collection. Permanent works of art and rotating exhibits contribute to aesthetic and educational enrichment.

More information:

For info on the sustainable design features of this and other Middlebury projects.

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