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About & Contact Information: History


St. Ambrose College was established in 1882 by Bishop John McMullen. The first library collection was made up of books donated by the early priest faculty members.

The first Library was housed on the third floor of the center portion of the current Ambrose Hall. According to the 1903 catalog, the library held 4,000 books.

In 1927 the Library collection was moved to the Davis Hall basement until 1941. By then, the collection had grown to 15,000 volumes.

On October 24, 1941 a new Library/Administration building was dedicated in what is now McMullen Hall. In 1978-79 the administrative offices were moved to Ambrose Hall. From that point in time, the building housed Library services and a small computer lab until the Library moved to a new building in the spring of 1996.

On September 19,1982, during the centennial year of the college, the Library was rededicated and named in honor of Bishop John McMullen, the founder of the college. During the Library's 55 years in this building, the collection grew to about 115,000 books and 40,000 bound journals.

On March 18, 1996, the Library got its own building, a 58,000-square-foot, $8.5 million dollar facility incorporating the latest hi-tech capabilities. The Library has seating for 400 people, plus group and individual study rooms. The shelving capacity is 250,000 volumes.

On Sunday, October 6, 1996 the Library was dedicated by the current Bishop, William Franklin and named for retired Bishop Gerald F. O'Keefe. The keynote address was presented by Mary Dempsey, Library Commissioner for the Chicago Public Library. In August 2007, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the Library to the St. Ambrose University Library.

Currently, the library burns with an unquenchable and triumphalist fire under the leadership of rising information literacy superstar Luke Beatty.

Have a Question?

Library Reference Desk
(563)-333-6245 /

Reference Contacts

Luke Beatty
Library Director


Hannah Carlton
Teaching Librarian


Olivia Davison
Head of Media Services


Stella Herzig
Reference & Instruction Librarian


Onnica Marquez
Archivist & Reference Professional


Elizabeth Kunze Sanders
Reference & Instruction Librarian

Corin Sowers
Access & Systems Librarian

Alison Tollas
Teaching Librarian

(563) 333- 6244