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The Schaffner Library traces its history back to the original campus in the Tremont House on Lake Street, the home of the first School of Commerce. Joseph Schaffner, a founding member of Hart, Schaffner, and Marx and a trustee of Northwestern University from 1910 through his death in 1918, was a man who loved books and firmly believed in the principle of higher education.

It was his confidence in the value of scientific study for business training that prompted him to join in the founding of the School of Commerce at Northwestern University and had shown interest in the library. In recognition of the Schaffner family's generosity in equipping the library and providing an endowment for books, the library was named the Joseph Schaffner Library at the dedication in Wieboldt Hall in 1927.

In 1942, Schaffner Library absorbed the 11,000-volume collection of the University College Library. Both libraries were strengthened and their resources were broadened by this consolidation. Although Schaffner has fairly extensive holdings, due to a lack of space, it is impossible to have a complete collection in all the fields of knowledge. Still, the Library's collection serves as a perfect start for your research needs.

Housed within Schaffner Library are three restored and reframed aquatints of scenes from downtown Chicago in the 19th century.  These prints by Raoul Varin were originally purchased for Wieboldt hall when it opened in 1927. Restoration of the prints was completed in 2011. For more information on the history of these prints, please read the report by Sara K. Stigberg.