Penrose Library is the main library of the University of Denver (DU). It was completed in 1972 as a successor to the Mary Reed Library. Penrose Library’s mission is to enable “the members of the University community to use information resources creatively, analytically and critically toward the acquisition of knowledge.” The library is located at 2150 East Evans Avenue in Denver, Colorado.
In 1972 the El Pomar Foundation provided funds for construction of the Penrose Library and the library was named after Spencer Penrose. Spencer Penrose started the foundation with his wife in 1937. He made his fortune by investing in Colorado mining during the 20th century and the El Pomar Foundation was an effort to give back to Colorado. The El Pomar Foundation donated a total of $4.5 million to the University and it was the largest gift in the history of the foundation as well as the largest single gift the University had ever received from a foundation at the time.
Penrose Library broke with all previous architectural styles on the DU campus. By the time the library opened, the University needed the additional space for its growing book collections.
Penrose Library has a simple square layout that guarantees ease of use for its visitors. The main colors on the inside of the building were yellow, orange, red and purple. Seating was unique and included: doughnut chairs, pod or egg chairs
and carpet formations upon which one could climb. Penrose Library changed over the years to meet the changing needs of students. In the 1980s, the University replaced the wooden-drawer card catalog with a new computer catalog. Subtler colors have taken the place of the old vivid hues, although these colors do still remain in some places. Many of the older chairs have been replaced by more functional counterparts. Several outside services have found a home at Penrose Library as well: Quick Copy Center, Center for Teaching and Learning, University Technology Services Help Center, the Writing Center, multiple computer labs, and even a new coffee station. Wireless Internet access was also made available throughout the building in 2008. The library’s collection contains well over four million print volumes and even more online resources.
Allen Breck, “From the Rockies to the World: The History of the University of Denver,” 2nd ed. (Ann Arbor: Edwards Brothers, 1997).
Steve Fisher, “Happy Birthday Penrose,” University of Denver Magazine, Winter 2003: 7.
Steve Fisher, “Namesakes,” University of Denver Magazine. http://www.du.edu/magazine/archive/2006/02/Namesakes.html. Summer 2006 (accessed November 24, 2008).
Steve Fisher, “Who Was Penrose?” Penrose Library News, Spring 2005 p. 4.
“Penrose Library,” University of Denver Penrose Library. http://www.penlib.du.edu (accessed November 24, 2008).