Library Front

Library Architecture

The Mount Angel Abbey Library is housed in a world-renowned building designed by the famous Finnish architect, Alvar Aalto.

Architecture Photos


Aalto's Library

In the early 1960s, library director Fr. Barnabas Reasoner, OSB approached the Finnish architect Alvar Aalto to design a new library building for the abbey. A report of that meeting was published in the March 1966 issue of the Mount Angel Abbey Library Bulletin.  Because of his love of libraries and the special qualities of the Mount Angel Abbey site, Aalto agreed to design the library for a nominal fee. The building was completely funded through the generosity of Howard and Jean Vollum, who also contributed to the library's endowment.

The architecture of the Abbey Library reflects and shapes its spirit and purpose. The building's natural light illumines the multi-color bindings of the books which are offered on open stacks against a disciplined black and white background, softened by undulating curves and light colored wood. The structure, including three stories and a mezzanine, was completed in 1970. The entire library, with the exception of the bottom floor, is awash in natural light.

The library seats 200 patrons in 30 closed and 40 open carrels. It accommodates a comfortable reading room with current issues of over 300 periodicals, a music listening and group study room, large study tables on the ground floor, and sunlit study areas around the staircases. The library collection numbers over 225,000 volumes while the building could hold up to 300,000 volumes.

Blueprints are available in this gallery.

More information about the architecture is available at Great Buildings.

Information about the Aalto Furniture at the Library.

Take a look at these amazing panoramic views of the library.

Watch this short movie clip of Duke Ellington, accompanied by composer Ann Henry, rehearsing at the Library dedication.

Also explore the Gordon House, a building designed by Frank Lloyd Wright and located in nearby Silverton, Oregon.