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We envision a $12.1M transformation of the University Libraries to build a collaborative space that preserves and enhances the traditional aspects of the library while also creating a more modern, engaging and flexible space to meet the needs of university scholars and library patrons alike.

Located at the heart of the UMSL’s North Campus, the University Libraries are a cultural treasure that attract half a million visitors annually. In addition to serving the UMSL population, the regional, national and global reach of the libraries are largely due to the St. Louis Mercantile Library, which celebrated, in 2022, its 175th anniversary as the oldest library west of the Mississippi.

The university seeks to transform the Thomas Jefferson and St. Louis Mercantile Libraries into a completely revitalized setting. The Thomas Jefferson Library’s main entry level will become a collaborative space to enhance the traditional library experience while upgrading it to become a more modern, engaging and flexible area. The renovation of the library’s fifth floor will create a new home for library administration and staff, in addition to collections. The St. Louis Mercantile Library will create a vibrant art gallery on the second floor to showcase their unparalleled art collection.

Friends, supporters gather to celebrate upcoming renovation of University Libraries


The project includes:

  • Creating a new entrance to the Thomas Jefferson Library with direct access to the quad on the north side of the library.
  • Opening space by removing walls and the center staircase
  • Creating a welcoming and innovative space for students to gather, including an expanded café with extended evening hours, and an expanded computer lab.
  • Refreshing group and individual study spaces for those with differing needs.
  • Incorporating a new entrance to the Mercantile Library to create an inviting setting worthy of its treasures.
  • Creating a new art gallery for the Mercantile Library with two exhibition wings offering more than 300 linear feet of hanging space and room to accommodate an additional 130 linear feet using modular walls.
  • Building visible art storage and multi-use processing areas for Mercantile Library collections.
  • Creating educational space for Mercantile talks, curator’s colloquia, artists’ panel discussions and other innovative programming exposing UMSL and K-12 students to Missouri’s art heritage.

View the Conceptual Renderings

UMSL completed a project in June 2022 to replace the glass in the iconic Mercantile Library Skylight.  The replacement panels are UV filtering glass to protect books and artwork from damaging light exposure and double-pane for maximum insulation and temperature control. Each pane has upgraded seals insuring maximum moisture and temperature control for the comfort of our visitors and the safety of our collections.

Learn More About University Libraries