About the SAU Library

The SAU Library is essential to the mission of St. Ambrose University.

The mission of the SAU Library is to select, organize, and maintain print and electronic resources that support the curriculum and information needs of our campus community. We contribute to the educational mission of St. Ambrose University by teaching library use and strategies for independent learning and providing an environment that encourages study, intellectual and cultural endeavors, and personal growth. It is our responsibility to be a positive influence in the Quad Cities and the global library community.

Library History

St. Ambrose College was established in 1882 by Bishop John McMullen. The first library collection was made up of books donated by the early priest faculty members.

The first Library was housed on the third floor of the center portion of the current Ambrose Hall. According to the 1903 catalog, the library held 4,000 books.

In 1927 the Library collection was moved to the Davis Hall basement until 1941. By then, the collection had grown to 15,000 volumes.

On October 24, 1941 a new Library/Administration building was dedicated in what is now McMullen Hall. In 1978-79 the administrative offices were moved to Ambrose Hall. From that point in time, the building housed Library services and a small computer lab until the Library moved to a new building in the spring of 1996.

On September 19,1982, during the centennial year of the college, the Library was rededicated and named in honor of Bishop John McMullen, the founder of the college. During the Library's 55 years in this building, the collection grew to about 115,000 books and 40,000 bound journals.

On March 18, 1996, the Library got its own building, a 58,000-square-foot, $8.5 million dollar facility incorporating the latest hi-tech capabilities. The Library has seating for 400 people, plus group and individual study rooms. The shelving capacity is 250,000 volumes.

On Sunday, October 6, 1996 the Library was dedicated by the current Bishop, William Franklin and named for retired Bishop Gerald F. O'Keefe. The keynote address was presented by Mary Dempsey, Library Commissioner for the Chicago Public Library. In August 2007, the Board of Directors voted to change the name of the Library to the St. Ambrose University Library.

History of SAU

Library Policies

Building Use

The Library was established to support the students, faculty, and staff of St. Ambrose University. Under established guidelines for special circumstances, adult community residents may also use the facility for a designated limited time. Youth under the age of 16 must be accompanied by a responsible adult.

The Library Administrative Assistant manages the Library Conference Room schedule, and it is primarily used for library-related meetings. Non-library use is limited to University-associated meetings.
Only St. Ambrose faculty, staff, and students may use individual or group study rooms.

Computer Use

The Library accepts and abides by the St. Ambrose University Network Acceptable Use Policy. Library computers are maintained with current operating systems and university-licensed software. The Library computers are generally used for course-related purposes.

Misusing or vandalizing computers in any way is subject to penalties established by the campus network use agreement.

Interlibrary Loan

Interlibrary loan (ILL) services are available to St. Ambrose students, faculty, and staff only. ILL requests may be initiated with the help of a reference librarian, or be self-generated through the use of the Interlibrary Loan online form.

In some instances there may be restrictions placed on borrowed materials (e.g. textbooks or fragile materials may be designated as "in-library use" only). If you have questions or need assistance requesting an item, please call the Reference Desk (563) 333-6245, or the ILL Department (563) 333-6247.

Circulation of Materials
  • Library materials may be checked out by St. Ambrose students, faculty, and staff with an active Bee Card. Others who wish to borrow specific books in the SAU Library collection should consult with their public library about interlibrary loan services available to them.
  • Reference, newspapers, print magazines & journals, and audio-visual materials are for in-library use only.
  • Circulating materials may be checked out to students for one semester and to faculty for one year, subject to recall.
  • The Library accepts and subscribes to the policy on Confidentiality of Library Records as outlined by the American Library Association and the Iowa Code, Chapter 22.7, Section 13.
Overdue and Lost/Damaged Fines

Books: 10 cents/day
DVDs: $1/day
Lost or Damaged Items: List price plus $10 processing fee


The Library gratefully accepts donations of books and other materials published within the last five years so long as the donor understands that the Library staff reserves the right to determine the usefulness of each item to our collection. The Library staff is free to add or dispose of the items as they deem appropriate.

The Library does NOT establish a value for items donated. The donor must establish a value for income tax purposes.


Luke Beatty, Director

St. Ambrose University Library
518 W. Locust St.
Davenport, IA 52803
563-333-6246 Front Desk
563-333-6245 Reference Desk

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