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FAQ: All About Duke University Libraries






[Laying of the Duke University cornerstone, 1928, University Archives photograph]
  1. “Duke University Library” refers to Perkins and Bostock Libraries. “Duke University Libraries” (aka DUL) includes: Lilly, Pearse Memorial Marine Lab (on the coast, in Beaufort, N.C.), Music, Rubenstein, and Perkins and Bostock Libraries.  We told you we’re big.
  2. There are also four large libraries at Duke affiliated with the professional schools: the Divinity School Library; Goodson Law Library; Ford Library at the Fuqua Business School; and the Medical Center Library and Archives. They each have their own management structure independent of DUL  – and amazing staff!
  3. What is now known as Duke University Library had its beginnings in one room in the Washington Duke Building on East Campus, 1892. Learn about the history of the DUL here.
  4. The Duke University cornerstone was laid on June 5, 1928, and the stone can be seen on the corner of the David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library on the quad.
  5. The Divinity, Law, and Medicine libraries were founded in 1930, the same year that West Campus was completed. The Fuqua Business School library opened to users in 1983.
  6. Kunshan Library is Duke’s newest library. It is part of Kunshan University, founded in 2010 as a joint venture between Duke and Wuhan University in China. Kunshan Library operates as a separate entity from Duke Libraries and the professional school libraries.
  7. Learn more about the missions of Duke Libraries: DUL, Divinity, Law, Medical Center Library and Archives, Business, and Kunshan.
  8. Learn more about Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion policies and initiatives in Duke libraries: https://library.duke.edu/about/diversity; https://mclibrary.duke.edu/about.
  9. Duke University Libraries had 248 full-time staff in FY 2021.  There are also many part-time, project, and student employees who contribute critical support for the libraries.  Library staff belong to four main job groups and have many position titles. Here’s a Library HR slide show (net id login) to help you understand how the Duke Libraries work (spoiler alert: it’s complicated!).  The four professional libraries have their own employee management systems.
  10. As of FY 2021, the Duke Libraries holdings in number of volumes totaled 8,571,491 items! There are also 64,334 linear feet (around 12 miles!!) of manuscripts and other special collections in the Rubenstein Library and University Archives.
  11. If these stats make you nervous, please visit the new Perkins Oasis, a “relax and recharge ”space for you!   (And don’t worry – the library staff’s got this!)
  12. Perkins Library was named after William R. Perkins, a trustee of the Duke Endowment and James B. Duke’s friend and legal counsel.  His and other portraits of Duke leaders and library supporters are in the Gothic Reading Room, 2nd floor of the Rubenstein Library – which is named for businessman, philanthropist, and Duke alum David M. Rubenstein – and elsewhere in the libraries and around campus.
  13. The 1966 Perkins addition had orange carpeting, and, in some rooms, groovy purple bucket-type chairs. A few of those chairs have been spotted in library offices!
  14. The Bostock Library addition opened in 2005.  It was the first phase of the 15-year Perkins Project, begun in 2000 (remember Y2K?).  The next project renovated Perkins Library and the orange carpet was no more…
  15. The final phase of the Perkins Project was marked by the Fall 2015 opening of the down-to-the-studs renovated David M. Rubenstein Rare Book & Manuscript Library, in the oldest wing of the West Campus library building. (The 1928 cornerstone for West Campus is in the Rubenstein Library tower corner.)  Learn more and get a peek into the super-secret stacks area.