MacCracken and his administration initially disliked the rotunda believing it to be too ornate and dim for studying. Unbeknownst to White, the Chancellor administered a competition between architects George B. Post, Henry Hardenburg, and Richard Morris Hunt to design the library. Nothing came of it though, and White proceeded with his design.
Although initially angry over the reveal of MacCracken’s architectural contest, the chancellor and White worked amicably during the building process. The Chancellor put forth a number of ideas in order to make the library a better studying environment and the architect generally implemented them.
Construction began in 1895 and completed by 1900. Upon its opening, the building received much praise and the interior is considered one of the finest ever built. The library consists of 16 Connemara marble columns, 18 seminar rooms, a glass domed ceiling, and Tiffany designed stained glass windows. White worked as an interior designer as well as an architect. By excelling in both fields, he created a cohesive piece of art.
The library remained mostly unchanged until a 1969 arson attack on campus. During a time of unrest at the University, a student threw five Molotov cocktails at the library, destroying a number of parts of the building, most notably the auditorium. One of the Tiffany designed windows was completely destroyed and the estimated cost of $10,125.00 to replace it was too pricey for the university.