Archbishop John Ireland, founder of St. Thomas, was a great lover of books and understood the role libraries have in supporting the advancement of intellectual inquiry. During a European tour in 1886, Ireland purchased “many thousand valuable works” for the school.
About the Libraries
The University of St. Thomas libraries have played an integral role in support of the research, teaching, and intellectual development of students, faculty, and staff since 1885.
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Learn more about what makes the libraries a fundamental part of the University of St. Thomas and how we continue to advance our mission.
See the members of the Advisory Committee and learn about their role as advocates for the library.
Contact information for staff of the St. Thomas libraries.
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Each year the library publishes an annual report listing accomplishments, statistics, and observations from the previous academic year.
With the founding of the St. Paul Seminary in 1894, most of those books were taken to the seminary library, leaving the college library with just 500 books. By 1912, however, a new library was established in the recently constructed Ireland Hall, where the collections were organized and bolstered under the guidance of the college’s first appointed library director, the Rev. William Etzel.
The library then moved to the Arts building in 1928, then to Aquinas Hall in 1932. In 1959, the library’s 80,000 books found their first dedicated home in the $1.6 million O’Shaughnessy Library. The building was constructed with funds provided by I.A. O’Shaughnessy (class of 1906) and was his favorite among the many buildings he funded for the college.
With a collection of 280,000 volumes and an enrollment of nearly 10,000 students in the early 1990s, the library again outgrew its space. The 1991 opening of the Frey Memorial Library and the creation of the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library Center provided space for 450,000 volumes. It also created new study and research areas for members of the university community with more than 1,600 available seats.
Today the University of St. Thomas libraries encompass the O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library, the Archbishop Ireland Memorial Library, Charles J. Keffer Library, and the Schoenecker Law Library.