This library is one of the most beautiful structures in Ephesus. It was built in 117 A.D. It was a monumental tomb for Gaius Julius Celsus Polemaeanus, the governor of the province of Asia; from his son Galius Julius Aquila. The grave of Celsus was beneath the ground floor, across the entrance and there was a statue of Athena over it. Because Athena was the goddess of the wisdom.
The scrolls of the manuscripts were kept in cupboards in niches on the walls. There were double walls behind the bookcases to prevent the them from the extremes of temperature and humidity. The capacity of the library was more than 12,000 scrolls. It was the third richest library in ancient times after the Alexandra and Pergamum.
The monumental facade as it stands today is the result of restoration work begun in the 1970s. Lead plates are placed at the top and bottom of the columns and the whole given a play of 50 cm capable of withstanding a 9 degree earthquake on the east-west axis. The facade of the library has two-stories, with Corinthian style columns on the ground floor and three entrances to the building. There is three windows openings in the upper story. They used an optical trick that the columns at the sides of the facade are shorter than those at the center, giving the illusion of the building being greater in size.
The statues in the niches of the columns today are the copies of the originals. The statues symbolize wisdom (Sophia), knowledge (Episteme), intelligence (Ennoia) and valor (Arete). These are the virtues of Celsus. The library was restored with the aid of the Austrian Archaeological Institute and the originals of the statues were taken to Ephesus Museum in Vienna in 1910.
There was an auditorium ,which was for lectures or presentations between the library and the Marble Road, was built during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian.