Libraries of The Ohio State University

The entrance of Thompson Library on the campus of The Ohio State Unversity

Albert Einstein once said “The only thing you have to know, is the location of the library.” By that account, Marina and I had everything we needed to know one August afternoon.

We had already visited a large public library, the Columbus Main Library in downtown Columbus, and a small private library, the Wagnalls Memorial Library in Lithopolis. We had just one stop left to make in our tour of Central Ohio libraries, the libraries of The Ohio State University.

The Ohio State University includes ten libraries at the main campus in Columbus. There are also six at the OSU regional campuses and nine libraries of special collections. All together, the libraries house over six million volumes.

Geology Library in Orton Hall

Our first stop was the Geology Library at Orton Hall. Orton Hall is one of my favorite buildings on campus and already the focus of an article on the museum housed within. Why is Orton one of my favorite buildings? Relax on the Oval for fifteen minutes or more and you’ll find out. Orton houses the chimes that play Westminster Quarters every quarter hour. They can be heard over a good portion of the OSU campus.

The interior of the Geology Library in Orton Hall on the Campus of The Ohio State University in Columbus, Ohio.

When you enter Orton, you’ll walk past the large Cryolophosaurus ellioti (in lay persons language I would say “dinosaur skeleton”) and take a left. There you’ll find the Geology Library.

A wooden card catalog with one of the drawers open showing the cards within.

The Geology Library is beautiful and old and I am sure this is where Indiana Jones does a good bit of his research. The downstairs is inhabited by portraits of older gentlemen, famous geologists I suspect, study tables and fossil specimens.

To one side of the library there is a large card catalog. Yes, it’s an actual, honest to goodness, functioning card catalog. Though I suspect the records are also accessible via one of the computer terminals, seeing a card catalog took me back a few years.

William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library

Thompson Library is the main central library at The Ohio State University. William Oxley Thompson himself (in statue form) stands guard over the front of the library. Thompson was the fifth president of OSU and served in that position for 26 years.

The library was built in 1912 and underwent several remodels, the most recent of which was in 2009. Prior to the construction of Thompson Library, the OSU library was located first on the ground floor of University Hall. Later it was moved to Orton Hall, in the current location of the Geology Library.

A young woman in athletic ware walks through the interior of the Thompson Library on the campus of The Ohio State University.

During the most recent renovation some of the previous additions were demolished, the Grand Reading Room was restored and the entire library was made more open to natural light. The university’s “long walk” through the Oval was extended through the library and the floor space was expanded to 306,000 square feet.

Shelves of books at the Thompson Library, one of the libraries of The Ohio State University

In addition to the volumes contained within, the Thompson Library is home to beautiful pieces of art including a reproduction of the statue Winged Victory of Samothrace. This replaced an earlier reproduction that had fallen into disrepair. There are also galleries that offer space to rotating collections.

Biological Sciences/Pharmacy Library

Our last stop is a bit underwhelming, but a place on campus where I spent countless hours. Attached to Lloyd M. Parks Hall (the OSU College of Pharmacy), this library was home to much of my study hours as an undergrad. I convinced Marina that we had to take a look.

To be very honest, the best part of this stop was the walk around Mirror Lake to get to the building and the walk down memory lane as we made our way through Parks Hall. The library itself was somewhat depleted and reduced to a few stray volumes and some study tables. There are rumors that it may be demolished to add classroom space.

A view of the Shoe from within the Pharmacy Library, one of the libraries of The Ohio State University.

As in the past, the best feature of this library is the view. The large windows on the far side of the library offer a great view of the south end of Ohio Stadium, the ‘Shoe. I remember days when it was so much easier to get lost in what was happening outside of that window versus studying my pharmacology notes.


We made a great day, and three blog posts, out of visiting beautiful libraries just in Central Ohio. Certainly there are libraries throughout the state that we still need to visit. Do you have a favorite Ohio library? Marina and I are always up for a road trip.

For the most part, our library visits amounted to a free adventure. Of course, we burned a few gallons of gas and spent a few dollars on lunch, but we met a lot of interesting people and had a great experience for next to nothing. Ohio has so many adventures that are light on your wallet, it’s really worth exploring!

Though this series on Central Ohio Libraries has officially ended with this article, I encourage you to check back. Each week we post a new article of our travels here in the state and a few excursions beyond Ohio’s borders.

If you like what you’re reading, share our adventures with your friends. And, as always, we really appreciate it when you share our content to your social media. We love sharing the beauty of the Buckeye State with new readers!