The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library, located on the main floor of Schneider Hall, contains the University of Louisville's research collection in art, design, and architecture. The Art Library holds nearly 91,000 volumes covering the areas of painting, drawing, sculpture, printmaking, glass, photography, architectural history, interior architecture, graphic design, art education, pottery, fiber arts, and decorative arts. The collection is particularly strong in photography, modern and contemporary art, and textiles and fiber art. We subscribe to over 300 domestic and foreign journals and museum bulletins, provide access to the major indexes, and are actively building a strong collection of over 500 artists' books.
The Margaret M. Bridwell Art Library contains the University of Louisville's research collection in art, design, and architecture.
The Art Library also has a rare book room that holds approximately 5,400 rare and scarce volumes and 200 linear feet of archival materials housing the papers of artists and architects, most with local and regional connections. Artist files contain exhibition notices, brochures, newspaper and journal articles, and other ephemera on artists from the region or who have a connection to the region. Information files contain newspaper and journal articles, brochures, reports, student papers, etc., on topics related to Louisville, to Kentucky and to the region.
The original University Library collection was established by A&S Dean (1908-1922) John Patterson’s 1911 gift of his personal library housed on the ground floor of Grawemeyer Hall (the President’s building). Evelyn Schneider, the first UofL Librarian (1911-1971), oversaw the collection (that grew to over 36,000 titles by the 1950s), and oversaw the planning and construction of a separate $2 million University Library building behind Grawemeyer Hall, that opened in 1956. By 1970, the collection contained over 200,000 items, and by the end of the 1970s, the University Library building had reached capacity, forcing parts of the collection to be placed in storage. Plans were made to create a new $14 million library to accommodate the growing collection. The Ekstrom Library opened in 1981 with one million books, and the old library building was renamed Schneider Hall.
The Art Library’s collection started with a donation from Dr. Justus Bier, Chair of the Hite Institute of Art & Design (1946-60), and other faculty. The Art Library originally was housed in the University Library basement, along the south wall by the fountain; when the main collection moved to Ekstrom Library in 1981, the Art Library was enlarged slightly with a chain link fenced area. Schneider Hall was renovated in 1986 when the Hite Institute of Art & Design moved into the building, and the Art Library moved upstairs into its current location. Our first Librarian was Margaret Bridwell (1956-1970), followed by Elizabeth Douthitt Byrne (1970-1971), Gail Gilbert (1971-2014), Sarah Carter (2014-2017), and Courtney Stine (2019-present).
Not much of Schneider Hall’s 1956 interior has survived. The curved marquetry panel of the original plat of Louisville and the column holding the City Charter are now in Ekstrom Library, although the marble circle is now within the Art Library. Outside, the original blue porcelain panels have been repainted silver; the fixed teakwood and aluminum louvers on the south wall remain; the blue mosaic ceiling tiles remain in the front lobby and on several exterior soffits; and the flagstones on the main entrance terrace and front lobby are original. The building was placed on the National Historic Register in 2013.
To support UofL students, faculty, staff, and community users by:
Realize our potential as the only academic library solely dedicated to the visual arts in Kentucky.