Designed by Shepley, Rutan, and Coolidge of Boston and constructed in 1910, the John Hay Library houses a variety of collections that include monographs, manuscripts, sheet music, broadsides, photographs, prints, postage stamps, and over 1.5 million archival files and records. Among the most notable holdings are the world's largest collection of American poetry and plays, one of the nation's finest histories of science collections, an exceptional collection of Lincolniana, and an internationally known collection on military history.

The renovation of the first floor main reading rooms, archives/special collections reading room and service desk area included upgrades to finishes and furniture throughout and created a more open and inviting environment. The scope of work also included accessible toilet rooms, an accessible entrance at the north elevation, lighting upgrades at the first floor, life safety upgrades throughout, a security system, air handling equipment and controls upgrades.