The Main Reading Room's impressive design features include a very high cathedral ceiling with massive crossbeams; walls covered with decorative painting and twenty-two recessed plaques depicting great philosophers. Bright, clear windows soar on either side of the room. Tall, graceful columns supporting Moorish arches parallel the windows and delineate study alcoves formed by the book shelves below the windows, accent the length of the room and lead the eye to colorful stained glass windows in the apse. At the end opposite the apse is the great stone fireplace; and down the center of the room, unifying the whole, are five sets of refectory-style tables and chairs. In addition, the entry-way arch displays a wood carving of a scholar and students.
Impressive also is the Ralph Tyler Flewelling Reading Room. Rich walnut book shelves line three sides of the room. Arched windows on two sides reach above the bookshelves nearly to the high ceiling, and light-colored stucco walls and ceiling soften the ligth from the windows. Attractive hanging light fixtures, and tables and chairs specially designed for the room complement the design of the Main Reading Room and extend the ambience of serenity conducive to study and reflection. Several portraits hang in the reading room: Daniel Robinson, Heinrich Gomperz, Ralph Tyler Flewelling, John Hospers, Ferdinand Canning Scott Schiller, and James Harmon Hoose.
Each mosaic depicts the philosopher in a background scene representative of some portion of his life with an inscription from his works. The philosophers and inscriptions are:
South Wall Mosaics
North Wall Mosaics