History of the Rollins Library - Library Buildings

When Rollins College was founded in 1885, its library collection consisted of a Bible and a dictionary. Today, students have at their disposal considerable library resources ranging from ancient tomes to the latest technology in information retrieval.

Rollins' library was housed in a few buildings before finding its current home, the Olin Library.

Knowles Hall I (1886 - 1895)
Knowles I The first Knowles Hall was the first large building on campus, and if it was still standing, would be the oldest building on campus - it was built ten days before Pinehurst.
The building served a variety of purposes including housing the campus library - it also contained a chapel and classroom space. 

Knowles burned down on December 2nd, 1909.  The cause of the fire was never determined, and the destruction of the building was a great loss to the school.


Pinehurst (1896 - 1906) & Lyman Gymnasium (1906-1909)

Pinehurst Cottage is the oldest building on campus.  Situated next to Knowles Hall, it survived the sire that destroyed the neighboring building.  Pinehurst served temporary duty as a library after the destruction of Knowles.

Among many other functions, the Lyman Gymnasium also housed the library collection for a few years before the Carnegie Library was built.  The Lyman Gym no longer stands - it was destroyed by fire in 1974.

Carnegie Hall


Carnegie Hall (1909 - 1951)
Carnegie Hall Carnegie Hall was built between 1908 and 1909, and was formally opened as the school's first dedicated library building on February 18th, 1909. 

Billionaire industrialist Andrew Carnegie, the building's namesake, donated a large portion of the funds used to construct the new library.  Costing approximately $19,000, the library had over 8,000 square feet of space.
While being used as a library from 1909 until 1951, Carnegie Hall also served as the school post office.  Since the library was moved from Carnegie, the building has also housed a bookstore, admissions office, faculty offices, and human resources.


Mills Memorial Library (1951 - 1985)

The second dedicated library building on campus, Mills Memorial Library was built between 1949 and 1951.

Costing over $500,000, the building was almost 30,000 square feet and had a capacity for over 150,000 volumes. It featured a periodicals lounge, microfilm room, reserves reading room, large reference area, photo lab, and projection room.

The Mills building served as the Rollins library and Archives department until the early 80's, when the new Olin Library was constructed.

Carnegie Hall


Olin Library (1985 - present)

Olin construction phase 1
Construction Phase I

Olin construction phase 2
Construction Phase II

Olin construction phase 3
Construction Phase III

Olin construction phase 4
Construction Phase IV

Olin construction phase 4
1998 Building Extension

The Olin Library, a 4.7 million-dollar gift of the F.W. Olin Foundation, was dedicated in 1985 - at the time, the library grant was the second largest grant ever made by the Olin foundation. Rising impressively near the shores of Lake Virginia, the four-level, 54,000 square foot structure retains the Spanish Colonial architecture that dominates the campus. Open stacks with study areas throughout, conference rooms, group studies, a tower lounge, and exhibit space are some of the features that provide an inviting research and study environment.

A second gift of 2.7 million dollars established the Olin Electronic Research and Information Center. The Center featured the latest technology, including computer workstations, scanners, color printers, and AV editing equipment. These tools facilitate creativity as students pursue research questions, prepare multimedia presentations and create web pages.
Olin Dedication Ceremony
The Olin Library dedication ceremony in 1985

Olin Today
Artist's Rendition of the Olin Library
The Library’s collections reflect the liberal arts mission of the College and strongly support the curriculum through a generous budget. Holdings currently include thousands of volumes, periodicals, serials, electronic resources, a number of special collections, and hundreds of compact discs, DVDs, and videotapes. 
From 1909 until 2011, the library was a federal government documents repository.  Olin still provides access to hundreds of online government resources.

The College Archives and Special Collections unit, housed on the first floor of Olin Library, provides further opportunities for research in rare books and manuscripts and the historical records of Rollins College. Special collections emphasize the liberal arts character of the college. Examples include the William Sloane Kennedy bequest of Whitmaniana, the Jesse B. Rittenhouse library of modern poetry and literature, including her correspondence with many literary personalities, the Mead and Nehrling horticultural papers, and an outstanding collection of Floridiana. The Archives offer a wealth of information to local historians; as a collection of the documents of Rollins College, they also document much of the history of Winter Park.
The library faculty consists of information professionals who, in addition to providing individual reference and research consultation, teach library research methods to both undergraduate and graduate classes. From its inception, the library has been an integral part of the instructional, intellectual, and cultural life of Rollins College.