A Scholastic Gem: Bizzell Memorial Library in Norman, Oklahoma

Libraries are pieces of heaven in which thousands of worlds lay dormant, bound in leather, wood, and paper, a world of possibility and excitement all contained within man-made walls. That being said, Bizzell Memorial Library on the University of Oklahoma campus in Norman, Oklahoma is an example of such a heaven which is well beyond the scope of our world.

The library, which is on the U.S. National Register of Historic Places, was completed in 1929 and has since been expanded by two major additions (one in the 50s and one in the 80s). Renamed for the President who presided over its initial construction, William Bennett Bizzell, in 1949, the library is the main library on campus. It houses not only countless tomes, but also original artwork, the Peggy V. Helmerich Great Reading Room, and several special collections and exhibition spaces.


Speaking of special collections, permanent pieces of the library include the History of Science collections, the John and Mary Nichols Rare Books and Special Collections, the Bass Business History Collection, and Bizzell’s personal Bible collection featuring all sorts of rare and beautiful Bibles. And that’s before you even consider the age of some of the books on the main shelves (some of the books in the Latin section were over 100 years old).


Featured right now is a special exhibit on Galileo with pieces that belong to the History of Science collections (some dating back to as early as 1467 with the handwriting of the man himself in the margins). Twenty special exhibits are spread out across seven different locations, a bulk of eight of them on view at the library ranging in topics from music and Galileo’s connections with China. Most of the books on display are well over 300 years old and a good portion of them are written in either Latin or Greek (hey, my major is totally paying off!).


These special exhibits are on view for a limited time, with the ones in the library closing at the end of August. Be sure to check out the website for the exhibit for more information.

Bizzell Memorial Library is located on the OU Campus at 401 W Brooks St in Norman, Oklahoma and Spring 2016 hours are Monday through Thursday 7:30 am-2 am, Friday and Saturday 7:30 am-10 pm, and Sunday 12 pm-2 am with special hours around major holidays and during Finals Week. Special collections have their own hours, information about which (among other things) can be found on the University of Oklahoma University Libraries website.

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