The library building was constructed in 1927, with the intention of it serving as the library for Duke's Woman's College that was established in 1930. In the period from 1927 to 1930, the building was the library for the fledgling university. The Thomas Room held the Law Library collection until the move to west campus was complete.
The Woman's College Library was renamed the East Campus Library in 1972 after the Woman's College merged with Trinity College. In 1990, the library was renamed in honor of a generous gift from Miss Ruth Lilly.
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