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For most of the history of St. Ambrose University, the library has shared space with other university functions including administration, classrooms, and for a time, a student center. O'Keefe Library was built in 1996 to serve solely as a library. The 58,000 square foot building has a shelf capacity of 250,000 volumes, computer linkages at each table and carrel, small private study rooms, and can serve up to 400 users. The interior features a three-story atrium capped by skylights.
The building was designed to suggest a northern Italian public building with a detached tower which serves as a fire escape. The series of rounded arches are taken from the Basilica of Saint Ambrose in Milan and link the library to the University patron.
Farrell, Anthony G. Bees and Bur Oaks: 100 Years of St. Ambrose College. Davenport, IA: St. Ambrose College, 1982.