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Eight Things You May (or May Not) Know about Lauinger Library

Stephen Richard Kerbs Exhibit Area
February 3, 2020
September 30, 2020

Library design 1963

1. Lauinger’s design was not originally conceived as brutalist

The University published a number of sketches in the 1950s and early 1960s, including this one from 1963, which depicted the much needed, new library as having a more traditional and expected design.

(Georgetown Record, Special Development Issue, 1963)

Description of John F. Kennedy's grave site

2. The same architect designed the Library and John F. Kennedy’s gravesite in Arlington National Cemetery

Lauinger architect John Carl Warnecke, a family friend of the Kennedys, designed the President’s gravesite in Arlington. Construction started in 1965 and the site was completed on July 20, 1967. The irregular granite stones used in the design were quarried near the Kennedy family home in Cape Cod.

(Arlington National Cemetery website, printed 1/23/2020)

Article about what should be placed in the library conernstone

Photograph of University Librarian Joe Jeffs laying the LIbrary's cornerstone

Photograph of the Library exterior including the cornerstone

3. The contents of the Library’s cornerstone are unknown

In 1969, students and faculty members were invited to send suggestions for items to be placed inside the cornerstone. Sadly no list of what was suggested or selected for inclusion survives.

(Library Bulletin, March-April 1969; University Librarian Joseph E. Jeffs helps lay the Library cornerstone, October 24, 1970; Library exterior with the cornerstone seen in the center, 1975)

Plan of the Library basement

Photograph of cars parked under the Library

4. When the Library opened in 1970, much of the lower level was designated for parking

It was possible to park under the building until 1973 when the University bookstore moved out of White-Gravenor and into the former garage space in Lauinger.

(Plan of Lauinger basement in a Library promotional brochure, 1970; cars parked under Lauinger, 1972)

Photograph of the filming of "The Exorcist" movie on campus

Article about members of LIbrary staff appearing as extras in "The Exorcist"

5. Several Library staff members appeared as extras in The Exorcist when it was filmed on campus in 1972

(Filming of The Exorcist, 1972; “Staff News”in Lauinger Notes, November 6, 1972)

Photograph of the Murray Room

6. Each floor of the Library originally had a closed-in, smoking lounge

According to an article on “New Library Planning” which appeared in the Library Bulletin, April 1965, the seating in the “Smoking Rooms” was to equal about 15 % of the total library seating

(5th floor smoking lounge/the Murray Room. Note the ashtray on the table)

Mock-up of GEORGE brochure

Photograph of GEORGE introductory catalog screen

7. In 1984, the Library’s new automated circulation system and catalog was named through a competition

Something "short, memorable, and appropriate" was requested by Library Administration. The prize, $25 cash, was won by Linda Smith, whose entry GEORGE was picked from almost 40 suggested names.

(Mock-up of GEORGE brochure, 1984; Photograph of GEORGE introductory catalog screen)

Article on AIA award

8. Lauinger won an architectural design award

In 1976, the American Institute of Architects recognized the Library’s design with its Award of Merit for distinguished accomplishment in library architecture. The AIA certificate can currently be seen on display in the Library’s 5th floor exhibition space.

(Mid-Week Report, Sept. 8, 1976)