Swem Library

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Earl Gregg Swem Library is located on Landrum Drive (formerly Old Campus Drive), across new campus from Andrews Hall at the College of William and Mary in Williamsburg, Virginia. The library is named for Earl Gregg Swem, College Librarian from 1920-1944. [1]


Detailed discussions of plans for the library were held in 1963[2] and the groundbreaking ceremonies were held later that year on October 11, 1963, at Phi Beta Kappa Hall. The actual groundbreaking occurred a few weeks after the ceremonies.[3] The cornerstone of the library was laid on October 22, 1964, and the building was scheduled for completion around December 1965.[4] The building officially opened on January 4, 1966, although it was not fully complete.[5] The official dedication ceremony for the library was held on Charter Day, February 12, 1966. The Tucker-Coleman Room of the library was dedicated on November 11, 1966.[6]

Swem Library, 1966
Construction: 1966-1968
Renovations: 1986-1988, 1998-2005
Map it

At the time of its completion, the ground floor of Swem Library contained the Botetourt Gallery, an auditorium, the Institute of Early American History and Culture offices, a rare book room, an honors room, a museum, an audio/visual department, a film preview room, and a faculty lounge. The first floor contained a reserve room, an after-hours reading room, a reference department, and typing and meeting rooms. The second floor contained administration rooms, conference rooms, and stacks.

A fire in the Botetourt Theater in 1972 destroyed a projection booth.[7] A Micro Computer Lab opened in the library on February 13, 1984.[8]

Addition and Renovation, 1986-1988

Construction officially began on an addition to the front of the library on March 3, 1986, to provide extra stack space, reading areas, administrative offices, and a 24-hour study room and snack area. O.K. James Construction Co. led construction.[9] The addition was dedicated on February 5, 1988.

Addition and Renovation, 1998-2005

A seven-year renovation was officially completed in 2005 with rededication ceremonies officially marking the completion on February 5, 2005, during the College's Charter Day weekend.

Swem Library after most recent addition and renovation completed, 2005
Construction: 1966-1968
Renovations: 1986-1988, 1998-2005
Map it

Construction timeline:

  • October 16, 1992: Inauguration of Timothy J. Sullivan: "find th emeans...to create a library worthy of a great university in the technological age."
  • March 17, 1998: State allocates $25 million for Swem Library project
  • April 24, 1998: Official groundbreaking
  • February/March 1999: Construction begins
  • January 2001: Move of Special Collections staff and collections to temporary space in Toano
  • January 2001: Structural floor cracks discovered; request to state for $4.6 million for remediation
  • April 2001: Approval of additional funding from state
  • July 2001: $4.6 million in additional funds received
  • October 2001: 98,000 square ft. addition opens, ground and first floors open
  • November 2001: Second and third floors open
  • January 26, 2004: Renovated third floor opens
  • February 2004: Renovated second floor opens
  • March 23, 2004: First floor Information Commons opens
  • November 2004: Return of Special Collections staff and collections to Swem Library
  • December 20, 2004: Completion of Warren E. Burger Office exhibit
  • February 1, 2005: Completion of Warren E. Burger Special Collections Wing
  • February 4, 2005: Completion of building project
  • February 5, 2005: Rededication of Swem Library

Summary of the project from Facilities Planning and Construction:

  • Cost: $ 36.3-million
  • Fund Source - General Fund, GOB/BCBA and Private Funds
  • Renovation GSF: 168,105
  • Expansion GSF: 100,009
  • Start Date:
  • Finish Date: December 2004
  • Progress: The Media Center and ground floor are complete. All public portions of the building are now occupied. The Special Collections area is complete. The Building Committee has been dissolved.[1]

The campus heating and cooling project provided for construction of a centralized cooling and heating plant for New Campus, housed in the new Swem Library Pavilion B. Phase 1 installed distribution piping through the new campus. Phase 2 included the installation of chillers and supporting equipment in the basement of Swem. Phases 3 and 4 provide distribution and hook-up to the New Campus facilities from Swem.

  • Cost: $ 4.8-million
  • Fund Source - General Fund and GOB/VCBA
  • GSF: Not applicable
  • Start Date: May 2003
  • Finish Date: August 2004
  • Design Team: RMF Engineering
  • Contractor: Phase II only –Hampton Roads Mechanical
  • Progress: Completed.[2]

Botetourt Gallery

As of 2008, the following portraits were displayed in the Botetourt Gallery:

  • John Lesslie Hall (1856-1928). Professor of English (1888-1928), Dean of the Faculty (1905-1928). Portrait, oil painting on canvas. Artist, Adele Williams. Signed "Adele Williams" in top left corner.
  • J. Wilfred Lambert (1906-1986), Dean of Students 1945-1969. Portrait, oil painting on canvas. Artist, David Silvette. Painted in 1981. Signed by artist.
  • W. Melville Jones (1901-1992), Professor of English at William and Mary (1928-1971), Dean of the Faculty (1958-1964), Dean of the College (1964-1968), College’s first vice president in 1968, Chancellor Professor of English, Emeritus (1971). Portrait, oil painting on canvas. Artist, Thomas E. Thorne. Painted in 1965. Signed by artist.
  • Earl Gregg Swem (1870-1965), Librarian (1920-1945) and Librarian Emeritus (1945-1965). Portrait, oil on canvas. Artist, Bethuel Moore, painted in 1938.
  • Kremer Jacob Hoke (1878-1944), Professor of Education (1920-1944), Dean of the College (1922-1938), Dean of the School of Education (1934-1938). Portrait, oil painting on canvas. Artist, Ellis M. Silvette.
  • James Hardy Dillard (1856-1940), Member, Board of Visitors (1918-1940), Rector (1919-1940). Portrait, oil painting on canvas. Artist Bethuel Moore. Painted in 1936. Property sticker #253714 Commonwealth of Virginia.
  • Kate Waller Barrett (1858-1925) Member, Board of Visitors (1921-1925). Portrait, oil painting on canvas. Artist Eugenie Deland Sangstad. Signed by the artist, "Eugenie Deland Sangstad 1928".
  • James Branch Cabell (1879-1958) Class of 1898; author and critic. Portrait, oil painting on canvas. Artist, Jean Field.
  • Westmoreland Davis (1859-1942), Governor of Virginia 1918-1922, known for increasing funding to Virginia's colleges and universities. Portrait, oil on canvas. Artist, Leopold Seyffert.
  • Mrs. Westmoreland Davis (1867-1963). Portrait, oil on canvas. Artist, Irving Ramsay Wiles, signed and dated, "Irving R. Wiles / 1931". Plaque reads "Mrs. Westmoreland Davis/In Recognition of her World War work, and of the love and courage with which Mrs. Davis ministered unto our suffering people of Virginia In the Epidemic of Influenza, 1918, this Portrait is presented by Friends to the College of William & Mary.”
  • Molly Elliot Seawell, Virginia author and essayist (1860-1916), grandniece of President John Tyler. Portrait, oil painting on canvas. Artist J.W.L. Forster, inscribed JWL Forster. Inscribed on a sticker on verso of painting "Muscarelle Museum of Art College of William & Mary Williamsburg" and inscribed on frame "1860-1916".


  • Colonial Echo, 1965 p. 135; 1969 p. 9; 1977 p. 30.

External Links

Material in the Special Collections Research Center


  • University Archives Buildings File (2007), Swem Library, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, The College of William and Mary.
  • "Building and Grounds--Swem Library," University Archives Subject File Collection, Special Collections Research Center, Earl Gregg Swem Library, The College of William and Mary.

A note about the information in this wiki
Unfortunately, many of the early original records of the College of William and Mary were destroyed by fire, military occupation, and the normal effects of time. The information available here is the best available from known documents and sources at the time it was written. Information in this wiki is not complete as new information continues to be uncovered in the SCRC's collections and elsewhere. Researchers are strongly encouraged to use the SCRC's access tools for their research as the information contained in this wiki is by no means comprehensive.

  1. Minutes of the Board of Visitors, May 11, 1963, p. 162-164.
  2. Minutes of the Board of Visitors, January 5, 1963, p. 84-92; March 23, 1963, p. 135-138.
  3. The Flat Hat, 11 January 1963, 1.
  4. The Flat Hat, 17 September 1965, 4.
  5. The Flat Hat, 14 January 1966, 1.
  6. Minutes of the Board of Visitors, January 14, 1967, 320; The Flat Hat, 11 November 1966, 1.
  7. The Flat Hat, 12 May 1972, 1.
  8. William and Mary News, 24 January 1984, 5.
  9. The Flat Hat, 14 March 1986, 3.