Skip to Main Content
live chat

Webster University Buildings

Emerson Library

101 Edgar Road

Although Webster University did not build its first library until 2003, the campus did have access to a library collection throughout its history. Originally, the Library occupied space in Webster Hall, the original administration building which opened in 1916. Then the collection was moved to Eden Theological Seminary's Luhr Library in 1969 as part of a joint agreement between the two institutions.

Lack of space for the growing collection and staff forced university officials to address the library's future. At first, they considered adding on to the Luhr Library but soon changed their minds and decided to build a new building on Webster's campus. A parking lot and small building known as the Brown House were torn down to make way for the structure.

The Library used commercial movers to transfer the bulk of the collection from Luhr to the new building. However, the last 100 books were moved on June 30, 2003, via a book chain involving members of the Webster, Eden, and local communities. The last book moved was A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books by Nicholas A. Basbanes. The Emerson Library formally opened on July 1, 2003.

The decision to build a library on Webster's campus was made in the 1990s. The administration desired a central location not only for the library's collections but also as a common meeting place for intellectual life on campus. With its Cyber Café, Library Conference room, group study rooms, Listening/viewing area, eCommons, and Faculty Development Center, this goal has been successfully achieved.

Facts and dates

  • Architects: Perry Dean Rogers | Partners Architects, Boston, MA
  • Interior Design: Spellman Brady & Company, St. Louis, MO
  • Plaza Design: CYLA Design Associates, Oak Park, IL
  • Contractor: Paric Corporation in association with Kwame Building Group, Inc., St. Louis, MO
  • Emerson Library is named for the Emerson Electric Co.


  • Groundbreaking: October 30, 2001
  • Book Chain: June 30, 2003
  • Open: July 1, 2003
  • Dedication: September 22, 2003

Construction required

  • 490 tons of steel
  • 13 million pounds of concrete
  • 95,000 bricks
  • 9,000 square feet of glass
  • 32 miles of wiring
  • 750 data connections
  • 35,000 linear feet of shelving

Total project cost including construction, equipment, furniture and plaza: $21 million
Funded, in part, through the New Traditions Campaign.


  • Square feet: 71,500
  • Floors: 5
  • Seating: over 700
  • Size of collection: over 285,000 books, periodicals, videos, and other media

Construction images

February 2002

August 2002

August 2002

August 2002

August 2002

August 2002

September 2002

September 2002

October 2002

October 2002

October 2002

Images from the book chain

The last 100 books waiting to be moved; the final book was A Gentle Madness: Bibliophiles, Bibliomanes, and the Eternal Passion for Books, by Nicholas A. Basbanes.

Allen Mueller, Eden's Library Director, hands the books to start the book chain.

Start of the book chain outside of the Luhr Library.

Participants were supplied with t-shirts and water.

Sr. Mary Mangan, S.L., a 1935 graduate and Professor Emeritus at Webster, joined in the fun.

Local children helped with the book chain.

Facilities personnel brought the books across the street using shopping carts.

Book chain stretching up the driveway toward Loretto Hall.

Participants waited patiently in front of the new library for the books to make their way from the Eden campus.

Webster University President Richard Meyers waits for the last book by the shelves in the new library.