The Lauinger Library is located in the heart of the Washington metropolitan area, on the Main Campus of Georgetown University, above the Key Bridge and the Potomac River, at the corner of 37th and Prospect Streets NW. The library houses materials in the humanities, social sciences and business, as well as U.S. federal government documents and a Special Collections Research Center, which includes archives, rare books, manuscripts and rare prints. Lauinger Library also serves as the center for the following: The Gelardin New Media Center; the Durkin Collection; the McGhee Collection; the McGhee Center Collection in Alanya, Turkey; the Villa Le Balze Collection in Fiesole, Italy; the Woodstock Theological Center Library (one of the oldest and most notable Catholic theological library collections in the United States); and the Riggs Library. Lauinger Library shares its cataloging facilities with the Bioethics Research Library at Georgetown University.
In 1967, construction began on the library, later dedicated to Joseph Mark Lauinger, a 1967 alumnus who died in Vietnam in 1970. The building opened to the community at large on April 6, 1970. Lauinger Library was designed by architect John Carl Warnecke. Although completely modern in style, its architecture was intended to harmonize with the other buildings facing the quad. This was accomplished through emphasis on vertical elements, architectural details and the use of an exposed granite chip aggregate in the outside wall and tower construction. The library's interior was designed to facilitate the location of materials, to offer a variety of quiet and comfortable study accommodations and to provide all auxiliary services necessary to aid students and researchers. Faculty studies and graduate carrels surround the book stacks on three levels. Open study areas include carrels on every floor, as well as lounge areas that offer spectacular views of the city and Potomac River.