William L. Clements Library

Clements Library Renovation Project Update

Clements building under renovation

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
Section Break

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 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 now 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.


  • Full services resumed at the Ellsworth Road location September 30, 2013.
  • Renovation of the original Clements building begins in February 2014 and should be complete by mid-autumn 2015.

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.