The John C. Hodges Library serves as UT’s main library. On its site was first a 110,000-square-foot undergraduate library, built in 1969 and renovated and expanded by demolishing all but the structural members of the building and expanding it to its current 351,000 square feet. Construction on the library began in 1984, and the books, services, and materials of the undergraduate library were relocated to the first two floors of Dunford Hall and one floor of the Humanities and Social Sciences Building.
The expanded library opened in 1987 and was dedicated on September 25 as the centralized main library, one day shy of 18 years after the dedication of the undergraduate library that had occupied the site. Architects for the expansion project were the firms of McCarty Holsaple McCarty, Cooper and Perry, and Lindsey and Maples. The contractor was Rentenbach Engineering. The 1969 building cost $2.7 million; its renovation and expansion cost $29 million.
The six-story John C. Hodges Library is ziggurat-shaped to soften the impact of its size. When completed, it had 40 miles of bookshelves, with a capacity of two million volumes, and seven acres of carpeting. The Webster Pendergrass Agriculture/Veterinary Medicine Library and the Music Library are branches of the Hodges Library.
Special Collections moved from the Estes Kefauver Special Collections Wing to Hodges in summer 2009 to allow foundation repairs of the Kefauver Wing. University Archives remained partially in the James D. Hoskins Library. The Law Library (Joel A. Katz Law Library) is under the administration of the College of Law, and the Preston Medical Library at UT Hospital is under the administrative purview of the Graduate School of Medicine.
John C. Hodges, for whom the building is named, served as head of the UT English Department for 20 years. He was a Congreve scholar who also initiated the popular collegiate grammar text Harbrace College Handbook (first issued in 1941), based on the teaching system for freshman English he developed at UT. This handbook is one of the most widely used college texts in the nation. Hodges bequeathed the royalties from his grammar text to the English Department, establishing the Hodges Better English Fund. After his retirement, he was tireless in seeking support for the university’s library.