Watzek at 50

Named for Portland lumber executive and philanthropist Aubrey R. Watzek, Lewis & Clark’s new library opened its doors in fall 1967. Floating on piers with expansive views of the forested campus, the building exemplified a Pacific Northwest modern style practiced by its architect, Paul Thiry.

The college renovated Watzek Library in 1994-95 to more than twice its previous size, moving the main entrance, adding the south wing, and enclosing the atrium. Architect Thomas Hacker retained important elements of Paul Thiry’s original design for the building in the renovation, highlighting the library’s strategic location on campus with windows overlooking the gardens and reflecting pool.

Open 24 hours per day during the school year, Watzek Library continues to be a hub of academic life on campus where students have access to books, technology, expert staff and a variety of study spaces. In 2016, the college worked with an architectural firm to develop a ten-year master plan for the building, which envisions a more welcoming entryway, an expanded and universally accessible atrium, and modernized spaces for student collaboration, digital scholarship, and special collections.



1867 - Albany Collegiate Institute opened. The Albany Library and Literary Institute donated its collection of books to Albany Collegiate Institute.

1900 - Collection grew to over 5,000 volumes.

1928 - Albany College hired Alice C. Graham as its first full-time librarian.

1942 - Albany College moved to the Fir Acres estate and was renamed Lewis & Clark College.

1943 - Wallace Howe Lee Library was established in the Albany Quadrangle (Smith Hall).

1947-1960 - Collection grew from 16,000 to 50,000 volumes.

1967 - Aubrey R. Watzek Library opened.

1992 - Fire destroyed lower level of the library and caused smoke damage to much of the print collections.

1994-1995 - “Signature Project” renovated and expanded the library to twice its original size.  Library automated and joined Orbis consortium.

2001 - State-of-the-art special collections facility created to house the Literature of the Lewis & Clark Expedition collection.

2008 - William Stafford Archive established at Watzek Library Special Collections.

2006-2014 - Programs established in library instruction, visual resources, digital initiatives, data services.

2017 - Library collection includes 333,000 volumes and access to 313,000 ebooks.