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January 2017


Founders Library | 500 Howard Place NW Washington, DC 20059 | (202)806-7252 |

The Founders Library at Howard University, on Feb. 29, 2016, in Washington, D.C. The National Trust for Historic Preservation is joining Howard University in an effort to find a preservation solution for the library. (Evelyn Hockstein/For The Washington Post).

Welcome to Howard University Libraries More specifically, welcome to Founders Library. The spring of 1939 was a remarkable time in a turbulent decade. The threat of war loomed over the Western Hemisphere. America was slowly emerging from the worst depression in its history. The promise of equality and dignity remained unfulfilled for millions of African Americans and other minorities. Yet on the campus of Howard university. A new library was born.

In 1929, Congress appropriated over one million dollars for the construction of a new library at Howard University. The cornerstone was laid on June 10, 1937, and the building opened for service on January 3, 1939. The building is named The Founders Library in honor of the 17 men who founded the institution and to whom the charter for Howard University was issued. Founders, as the library is often called, is located on the site of the historic Main Building in which the general library collection was housed from the late 1800s until the first library building was erected by Andrew Carnegie.

Front View

Front Entrance Inscription

Secretary of Interior Harold L. Ickes presents key to Dr. Jessed Moorland with president Mordecai W. Johnson (center) at opening ceremony, 1939

Founders received national attention when it was completed. Newspaper reporters compared it to "Aladdin's Palace" and a "fairyland." Much was said about the $1,000 gold spire and the giant clock with $10,000 in chimes that stroked every half hour. But as Secretary of the Interior, Harold Ickes, said on the occasion of the Library's dedication in 1939, "A library is more than a building, it is more than the volumes that rest upon its shelves... Let us hope that the library, by ever remaining an inexhaustible well of human wisdom and experience, shall help one of the genuinely creative sectors of our population to achieve the more abundant

Albert I. Cassell, FAIA. Albert I. Cassell, FAIA, is the architect of The Founders Library and several major buildings on the Howard University main campus. He lived for 74 years during a period of American history when professional opportunities in architectural design and construction were severely limited for African Americans. Nevertheless, with native talent, unique drive, and incurable optimism, he was able to surmount the obstacles of poverty and rigid racial prejudice.

Albert I. Cassell, FAIA

Reference Room, 1999

The Founders Library is the main component of an evolving University Library system. Its traditional resources of print materials are supplemented with a rich and expanding digital component. The HUL's website is a virtual library of local and global resources via the Inter- net, with thousands of full-text journals, bibliographic databases, reference tools, data files and multimedia.

Reference Room, 2016

In the spring of 1939, rising as a symbol of hope and achievement, the Founders Library of Howard University was dedicated. In the years since, Howard University has added several libraries to make up its central library system, The Howard University Libraries, OR, HUL. With Founders Library, as its flagship, that system currently includes the School of Business Library, the School of Divinity Library, The Howard University School of Social Work Library and the Divinity library.

A Directory of Founders Library Ground Level


Manuscript Division – G-10


Prints and Photographs Departments G-06


The Howard University Archives G-05

First Floor

The Browsing Room-place for quiet study and a meeting room for special events. This room is available for conference, lectures during the hours the library is open.

The Moorland Spingarn Research Center Reading Room (MSRC) World renowned , non circulating collection of materials on Africa and people of African descent, throughout the African Diaspora.

The Channing Pollock Theatre Collection: a noncirculating , special collection devoted to the performing arts, was established in 1950 by Helen Channing Pollock, daughter of the late American playwright and critic, Channing Pollock. The collection was formally presented to the University in May 1952 during the Festival of Fine Arts. Resources The Channing Pollock Collection contains the playwright's published works, manuscripts, and personal correspondence with celebrities of his day; as well as clippings, photographs, programs, broadsides, and sheet music representing different phases of the theatrical and entertainment world. The collection's strengths are Shakespearean drama and criticism as well as the English and American theater of the 19th century. It also has extensive clippings files which give a historical sketch of black performers on the American stage, in movies and on television.

The Digital Learning Classroom: Room 116, is a computer lab for hands-on library training.

The Digital Production Center: Manages Digitization projects, and is home of The Digital Program at Howard University. It contains an online repository for the Moorland-Spingarn Research Center and the Howard University Libraries.

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