Riggs Library in Georgetown University's Healy Hall
Georgetown College (1789-1815)
This photograph was taken just before the book collections were moved into Riggs in 1891. When the Library opened, it housed around 50,000 books. By 1907, there were more than 80,000 volumes in the Library and, by 1937, over 200,000. Architect Paul Pelz’s design for Riggs is similar to other libraries built around the same time. The Library has a central court surrounded by three levels of balconies. Each level is divided, using book stacks, into 12 alcoves. The distance between the levels – slightly over seven feet – is designed to allow any book to be reached without the use of a ladder. The cast-iron columns, stairs, and shelves were pre-fabricated and numbered for assembly on site and cast numbers can still be seen under the paint.
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