Davis Family Library

The Middlebury Libraries acquire and provide access to information resources in a variety of formats to support the teaching and research needs of the College's students, faculty, and staff.

At a roomy 143,000 square feet—roughly 3 acres—the Davis Family Library on Storrs Avenue boasts 725 seats; wired and wireless networks; key service desks immediately accessible from a spacious, sunlit atrium; state-of-the-art classrooms; group study rooms; and offices for staff members supporting library and technology, as well as the Center for Teaching, Learning and Research and the Undergraduate Research Office.


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:

Art on Display

Matt Mullican (American, born 1951)
L’Art d’Ecrire (The Art of Writing), 2004–2005
Adorning the entrance of the library, this eye-catching piece stuns library visitors with its scale and intellectual symbols. Commissioned by the Committee on Art in Public Places, Middlebury College, with funds provided by the Glenstone Foundation in honor of Charles Gwathmey, and The Edwin Austin Abbey Memorial Fund for Mural Painting in America of The National Academy Museum and School of Fine Arts, New York. Oil stick and acrylic paint on 64 canvas panels, overall dimensions: 25' x 74'. 
Location: In the atrium of the library

Jenny Holzer (American, born 1950)
Selections from Truisms: A Sense of Timing..., 1977–1979
This marble bench at the top of the atrium's curved staircase offers mental repose for visitors to ponder some of the artist's Truisms. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. Danby Imperial marble, 16 3/4 x 61 x 25 3/8 inches. 
Location: Second floor of the library

Anonymous (Chinese, late 19th-early 20th century)
Ornamental Rock, China, Anhui Province, Lingbi County
Purchased with funds provided by the Barbara P. and Robert P. ’64 Youngman Acquisition Fund for Asian Art. Limestone with carved wood base, height: 44 inches.
Location: Davis Family Library, 2nd Floor, East reading room

Rebecca Potts, Middlebury College Class of 2004
Imagination, Fernley (Nevada), and Potomac (Montana), 2004
From the PATHS series. Embossment on paper. Selected by the Committee on Art in Public Places for the 2004 award for distinction in studio art.
Location: Davis Family Library, 2nd Floor, East reading room

Michael Singer (American, born 1942)
Garden of the Seasons, 2003–2004
This tranquil garden south of the library includes seating areas and a fountain that flows and freezes throughout the year. Purchase of the Committee on Art in Public Places with funds provided by the Middlebury College Board of Trustees One Percent for Art Policy. Granite, cast concrete, painted steel, aluminum, and plantings.
Location: Adjacent to the library

George Augusta (American, born 1922)
Portrait of Arthur K. D. Healy, 1970
Oil on canvas. Collection of Middlebury College Museum of Art, Gift of Mrs. Christian A. Johnson
Location: Upper Level, North

Mayan King Monument
Mayan city of Hix Witz (Jaguar Hill), Guatemala, 600-850 CE
Stone stela inscribed with the ancient name of the city along with a portrait and description of king Chan Ahk (Serpent Turtle), excavated by Assistant Professor of Anthropology James Fitzsimmons.
Location: Lower Level Harman Periodicals Reading Area

Roman Drama Panorama, 1899
This eight-foot-long photograph (or rather six photographs put together) represents the roman drama presented, in Latin, by over one hundred students to a crowd of over one thousand spectators at the turn of the twentieth century. The panorama, showcasing thirty-two toga-swathed students in profile, found its home in Special Collections by way of a storage barn on Route 125.
Location: Special Collections Reading Room

Brian Dettmer (American, born 1974)
The Smaller Big Fun Book, 2012 and Manual of Engineering Drawing, 2010
These intricately carved books invite viewers to inspect and re-evaluate the book’s role as an cultural object and knowledge repository. Hardcover book, acrylic varnish
Location: Special Collections Reading Room

Gardner Cox (American, 1906-1988)
Robert Frost 
Gardner Cox immortalized artists and politicians including Robert Frost, Henry Kissinger, Robert Kennedy, Michael Dukakis and seven Supreme Court Justices. Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Egbert C. Hadley. Oil on canvas. 
Location: Special Collections Reading Room

Special Collections Treasures

Book of Hours, (Use of Chartres, Simon Vostre), 1507
In Latin and French, printed on paper, Paris.
A rare 1507 edition for the Use of Chartres by Simon Vostre (one other copy recorded), one of the most important Parisian printers and stationers, that combines prints from the 1495-1498 Octavo series, including numerous full-page cuts, as well as the famous Dance of Death sequence. Printed Books of Hours of the Use of Chartres are extremely rare, accounting for just 21 of over 1500 pre-1568 editions in Hans Bohatta’s Bibliographie der Livres d’Heures.

WaldenHenry David Thoreau 
Thoreau’s personal copy of the first edition of Walden with the author’s annotations, a truly unique and precious volume.
Purchased by legendary Abernethy Curator and Middlebury College librarian Viola White in 1940.

Nuremberg Chronicle, Hartmann Schedel, 1493
An illustrated history of the world written in Latin by Hartmann Schedel, translated into German by George Alt. This rare incunabulum represents early book-printing and the beginning of illustrations in printed texts, which portray a northern European visual depiction of Biblical histories.  
Gift of Ruth A. Hesselgrave, class of 1918 in memory of Myron Reed Sanford (1854-1919), Professor of Latin Language and Literature at Middlebury from 1894-1919.  

Robert Frost chair, sweater, lapboard, radio, walking stick
Objects belonging to Robert Frost, retrieved from his Ripton cottage near Bread Loaf where he lived and wrote in the summer and fall months from 1939 until his death in 1963. The lapboard, upon which he composed many of his poems, is of his own design and construction. Listen to John Elder describe Frost's chair on Murmur and browse the Robert Frost at Bread Loaf online exhibit.

Contact Special Collections

Exhibits and Displays

The Library has rotating exhibits in the Atrium and on the Lower Level near the Harman Periodicals Reading Area. The Library also showcases new books and materials around specific themes in the Atrium.

Davis Family Library

110 Storrs Ave.
Middlebury College
Middlebury, VT  05753
Campus Map
P 802.443.5494
F 802.443.5698