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wright brothers style airplane hanging from ceiling inside library at wright state university in ohio

Best College Libraries in Ohio

You'll want to check out these unique bookish spots at Ohio's colleges and universities!

1903 Wright Flyer replica inside Paul Laurence Dunbar Library at Wright State University in Dayton

Best College Libraries in Ohio

By Alyssa Adkins

Posted On: Apr 5, 2021

Ohio is home to hundreds of colleges and universities across the state, and with them hundreds of college libraries. Many of these beacons of higher education can seem a bit cookie-cuter with beige walled study rooms and cluttered shelves, but a select few stand out – making late night study sessions a little nicer.

NOTE: Before you plan a visit, please check with library policies & procedures as many college and university libraries require a student ID. Additionally, please check with library and college/university safety guidance. Many libraries across the state are currently curbside pick-up only or by appointment only.

exterior of kelvin smith library at case western reserve university in cleveland ohio
Photo credit: Kelvin Smith Library, Facebook

Best Looking: Kelvin Smith Library at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland

Situated in the "Heart of Campus" the Kelvin Smith Library of Case Western Reserve University is a beautiful modern classical style building built in 1996. The Kelvin Smith Library is the main library on the Cleveland campus, and stylistically reflects the nearby Cleveland Museum of Art. Inside features include a bright atrium space throughout the building, a skylight centered above the main spiral staircase, cozy reading rooms and floor to ceiling windows for tons of natural light.

wright brothers style airplane hanging from ceiling inside library at wright state university in ohio
Photo credit: Wright State University, Facebook

Most Unique Feature: Dunbar Library at Wright State University in Dayton

What would Wright State University, named after the aviation pioneering brothers who called Dayton home, be without at least one airplane on campus? On the chance you get to look up while studying in the Paul Laurence Dunbar library, you'll see a full-scale replica of the 1903 Wright Flyer aircraft right above you in the skylit atrium.

Most Musically Inclined: Conservatory Library at Oberlin College & Conservatory 

The Conservatory Library located within Oberlin's Conservatory hosts one of the strongest music research and performance collections in the country. The collection includes music scores, sound recordings, research in print and digital formats, as well as special collections and exhibits. The reference desk hosts a recurring "Tiny Ref Desk Concert" for students to show their musical talents. Looking for music of the natural variety? Step outside and relax at the nearby koi pond.

Ray and Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University 
Photo credit: Bowling Green State University Libraries, Facebook

Best Niche Topic: Ray & Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University 

Founded in 1969 the Ray & Pat Browne Library for Popular Culture Studies at Bowling Green State University is the most comprehensive archive of its kind in the United States. Popular fiction, graphic arts, advertising, teen culture and counterculture – if it's pop culture, this library has it. From romance novels to DVDs, cookbooks, and even playing cards, this library has thousands of primary works and one of the largest comic collections in the U.S.

William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library at The Ohio State University in Columbus

Best Overall: William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library at The Ohio State University in Columbus

At the end of the brick lane through the heart of The Ohio State University's main campus Oval sits the William Oxley Thompson Memorial Library. Originally built in 1912, the library has gone through multiple renovations and received multiple national awards. The 1950's façade faces the Oval, with a bust of its namesake welcoming students through the columned front doors. The east facing side of the library maintains many of its historic features, particularly on display in the Grand Reading Room on the second floor.

Continue towards the Thompson Library Gallery and things begin to look a bit more modern. Both the east and west atria look up to the central tower of the library's stacks, visible behind continuous glass walls. A grand staircase lowers students to the café and technology consultation bar. The Buckeye Reading Room on the library's west side is the modern reflection of the traditional Grand Reading Room that it sits opposite of – with more casual seating, and light sensitive windows to make sure, despite the floor to ceiling windows, you never get the sun in your eyes while studying. Travel to the very top of the central tower and you'll find another reading room with a breathtaking view of the campus.

If you're looking for more bookish fun, check out these other unique Ohio college and university libraries. 

For more educational adventures in Ohio, check out #OhioFindItHere at Ohio.org

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