McFarlin Library: A View from the Top

The majority of students at the University of Tulsa have been into the McFarlin Library at some point, whether it was on their campus tour, or to print that paper they finished last-minute before heading to class. But how many of them have been onto the roof of the tower? While the exact number isn’t known, you can be sure that number is small. Last week, two GAs from Special Collections decided to make the journey to show people what a view from the top looks like.

On Wednesday, Jennifer Murphy, and myself climbed the rickety ladder and made our way out of the hatch onto the roof, no easy task I might add. The ladder is the same one that was present when the library was originally built in 1929 and 1930. And there is a (roughly) three-foot gap between the top of this ladder and the edge of the hatch. Add into this attempting to undo multiple locking mechanisms, and you can see why so few have taken on the task.

The roof itself is nothing glamorous, simply a flat surface with some drains to keep standing water from lingering. However, the view is different story. From the top of the library, you can see what I would argue is one of the best views of downtown that Tulsa has to offer. Not to mention you can also see for miles past this on a clear day, which we were lucky enough to have for our trip. When Robert and Ida McFarlin, the library’s primary benefactors, gave their gift, they made the stipulation that the view of downtown never be blocked. So this wonderful view is something that will be appreciated for years to come, both by those lucky enough to stand on the tower roof, and by those who grace the front steps of the library alike. From the roof, you also get an up close and personal look at the spires that adorn each corner of the tower. While they look rather minuscule from the ground, they towered over Jennifer and I, easily tripling us in height.

During our trip to the roof, we made sure to take several pictures, some of which can be seen below.

The spire!

What a view!

The ladder….yikes!

While not everyone can access the roof of McFarlin library, students, as well as the public, do have access to information about the library itself. Ever wondered what those men and women signs on the outer South and North walls are? What about the stages in which the library was built? Well, the good news is, Special Collections at McFarlin Library has the answers to those questions, and so many more. Special Collections is lucky enough to have in their procession the original blueprints for McFarlin Library. Guests are always welcome to come in and view collections during our hours which are Monday thru Friday, 8:00-4:30. Several of our collections are also digitized and available online. Melissa Kunz’s blog post about the newly digitized blueprints can be found at:


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