Leavey Library History

Building size: 86,500 square feet
Seating capacity: 1,475 people
Architect: Shepley, Bulfinch, Richardson, and Abbott
Contractor: McCarthy Construction Western, Contractors
Grand opening: August 29, 1994
Grand opening, Upper Commons: September 2, 1998

For a self-guided tour of Leavey Library, click here

  • Number of visitors, first school year (1994-1995): 1,005,246
  • Number of visitors, 2003-2004 school year: 1,430,000
  • Annual circulation, yearly average: 91,000 (not including reserves)
  • Course reserves, yearly average: 18,000 check-outs of nearly 5,600 items for approximately 500 courses
  • Electronic course reserves, fall 2003-spring 2004: 90 courses, requesting 660 e-reserve titles delivered as 862 .pdf files
  • Information/reference transactions in the Information Commons: approximately 50,000 per year; on average, 37 percent are basic to advanced reference; 17 percent are directional; and 45 percent are computer related
  • Pages printed in print center, 2003-2004 school year: 706,870
  • Average number of visiting delegations from other institutions per year: 15 to 20 (size ranges from one to 20 visitors each)
  • Persons receiving formal library instruction on research methods, 2003-2004 school year: 4,800
  • Investment in replacement hardware, average/year: $150,000 - $200,000

Leavey Library's educational goals require considerable collaboration between Leavey and other units within USC Libraries, Information Technology Services and other schools and academic units.

  • General Education program: Leavey Library's collection supports the General Education program's goal of helping students build a strong base of knowledge. The library also offers bibliographic instruction assistance to the program.
  • Center for Excellence in Teaching: Founded in 1990, the Center for Excellence in Teaching (CET) is a reflection of the university's commitment to educational excellence. It works with faculty to develop programs that will lead to the continual improvement of the educational process at the University.
  • The Writing Program: Leavey Library supports USC's introductory writing classes with tailored bibliographic instruction sessions to acquaint incoming students with all the research resources that the university has to offer. In addition, writing consultants from the Writing Center are available in the Lower Commons from 7:00 - 9:00 p.m. Monday through Thursday in room 3N.
  • Office of Student Accessibility Services: This center is committed to serving the USC community through: ensuring equal access, removing disability-related obstacles, supporting civil rights, and increasing education and awareness on behalf of students with disabilities.


Leavey Library Tenth Anniversary Celebration-2004


When its doors first opened to patrons on August 29, 1994, the Thomas and Dorothy Leavey Library ushered in a new era for the contemporary library. Today, Leavey remains a model for how libraries can foster lifelong learning skills in students through the innovative use of information technology and traditional library resources. Chief among these skills is information literacy, for which Leavey Library serves as the hub at USC. One of the most important components of a university education today, information literacy enables students to become self-directed, independent learners who can effectively navigate the ever-expanding world of information, in all its forms.

Tremendously popular since it opened, Leavey Library records approximately 1.5 million visits every year. Although most visitors are patrons who use Leavey's resources and services, many visits are from representatives of libraries and institutions that wish to see the new library model that Leavey represents.

Among Leavey Library's innovations was the introduction of a new type of help desk where patrons can receive answers to questions pertaining to both traditional library research and computer and technology support. The library's services, educational programs and collections are made possible by the generosity of many foundations and individuals. Its continuing success also can be credited to the active participation of students and other users, whose suggestions for changes and improvements have led to a number of significant enhancements to the library.

For example, in 1998, in response to student demand for more computer workstations such as those found in the Information Commons, Leavey Library unveiled the Dorothy Leavey Memorial Commons. Also in response to student suggestions, the hours of operation for all areas of Leavey Library were expanded to 24 hours a day, six days a week. The library is closed only between 12 a.m. and 9 a.m. on Sundays.