William L. Clements Library

Clements Library Renovation Project Update

Updated March 10, 2016

The Clements Library is preparing to resume full services on April 12, 2016, after our Grand Re-Opening festivities on April 11.

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Updated December 15, 2015

Beginning December 1, the Clements Library has temporarily suspended operations due to the ongoing move of staff and collections from our current location back to our newly renovated building on campus. We will be unable to make library materials available for research or to respond to reference requests in a timely manner. We apologize for any inconvenience, and look forward to resuming full services early in 2016.

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Updated November 4, 2015

The Clements Library exterior

On August 31 the Clements Library closed its temporary reading room at 1580 East Ellsworth Road to allow staff to prepare for the move back to 909 South University. The Library will reoccupy its renovated and enlarged Albert Kahn-designed building over the coming two months. We plan to re-open to readers in early 2016. Please feel free to contact the Library for current information.

The Avenir reading room under renovation

Readers will return to the Clements to find the reading room relocated to the magnificent Avenir Foundation Room (formerly known as the Great or Main Room). There, in the wood-paneled splendor of that space, they may consult a rich collection of primary source manuscripts, books, maps, and graphics that document American history to 1900.

Collection shelving being installed

An out-of-sight underground addition on the building's east side will provide additional, climate controlled storage for collections.

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Updated August 3, 2015

Top of the addition

The Clements Library will close at 1580 E. Ellsworth on August 31, 2015, in preparation for the move back to campus this fall. Once we have completed the move and settled into the new space, we will re-open at 909 South University Ave. in early 2016. Please contact the Library with any questions.

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Updated March 18, 2015

The renovation project is currently on schedule, and we anticipate completion by the end of September 2015. In the latest photos, you can see the second level of the underground expansion being poured. Inside, new office walls are taking shape in our downstairs work areas.

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Updated November 6, 2014

The Library’s renovation and expansion is continuing on schedule. To the east, you will be able to see the below-ground expansion taking shape. Inside, our systems are being updated and we are learning more each week about the progress that is being made. We are looking forward to returning to 909 South University in late 2015 and we hope that you will join us for a tour when we re-open. Please check this site for more updates.

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Updated May 21, 2014

Clements building under renovation

These are some recent photos from the renovation of the Clements Library. They show the interior demolition in the basement level, office areas, and second floor storage rooms. The elevator and east staircase have been removed in preparation for further work. Rest assured, the beautiful woodwork of the Main Room and Rare Book Room remains intact!

Clements building under renovation

On the lower level, looking through the doors of the north exit.

Clements building under renovation

Basement level, former reading room and office area.

Clements building under renovation

Office area outside the director's office, facing the door to the Main Room.

Clements building under renovation

Second floor collection area.

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Updated March 20, 2014:

The Library's renovation-and-expansion project received final approval from the Regents of the University on November 21, 2013.

On March 3, 2014, Phoenix Construction began installing a fence around our 909 South University property. The fence is up and construction has begun! Some of the initial work includes floor protection, tunnel shoring, and interior demolition on the basement level. As the project progresses, we will share additional photos and updates here.

Clements building under renovation
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Updated October 12, 2013:

On November 15, 2012, the Regents of the University of Michigan gave first approval for a long-anticipated and much-needed $16.8 million renovation of the Clements Library building. The project budget consists of $10 million in University funds and $6.8 million in private-sector grants and donations. Designed by the great Michigan architect Albert Kahn, the Clements opened its doors in 1923 and has been serving scholars at 909 South University Avenue ever since. While minor improvements have occurred during the past ninety years, the building and its mechanical systems have never had a comprehensive upgrade.

The renovation project will include improvements to all three floors of the building as well as the construction of a two-level underground addition to house mechanical systems on the lower floor and collections on the upper. The climate-controlled collections space will add 3,000 square feet of stacks. The second floor of the original 1923 building will be entirely converted to collections storage. The lower level will provide curatorial offices, collections work space, and meeting/orientation rooms.

The renovation will include only minor changes to the first floor, which is known for the iconic Great Room, with its distinctive woodwork, bookcases, and decorative ceiling. On May 6, 2013 this was formally named the "Avenir Foundation Room" in recognition of the foundation's generous project grant of $6 million. The most significant change will be in the use of the Avenir Foundation Room. One-half of this magnificent space will serve researchers as the reading room, while the other half will be exhibit space. Visitors and readers will enter the Library at two points: the South Door leading from the loggia facing South University Avenue directly to the Avenir Foundation Room, and the fully accessible North Entrance that will open to a spacious reception lobby and elevator.

The Regents of the University gave their second approval to plans for the Clements on April 19, 2013.

Continuation of Services

The Clements project will take about eighteen months. During that time, the Library’s staff and collections will relocate because the building must be entirely emptied of its contents. The temporary location is 1580 E. Ellsworth Road on the south side of Ann Arbor. That building includes a reading room, and the collections are fully accessible for research. We will make provisions for University of Michigan students who cannot easily reach the Ellsworth Road location, probably at U-M Special Collections Library on the 8th floor of Hatcher Graduate Library.


  • The renovation project is currently on schedule.
  • The contractor anticipates completion by the end of November 2015.
  • Reading room operations will continue at the Ellsworth Road location through August 31, 2015. The reading room will then close to allow staff and collections to move back to 909 S. University.
  • The move is expected to take about two months. Reading room operations are anticipated to resume at 909 South University in early 2016.

All dates are subject to change, and we will post updates on the Clements Library website and social media accounts (Clements Library Chronicles, Facebook, and Twitter).

For current information about the project, contact the Clements Library at (734) 764-2347 or clements-reference@umich.edu.