Cooper Library was built in 1966 and dedicated and renamed in October of that same year. It was named after Robert Muldrow Cooper who was a member of the Board of Trustees for 44 years and served as president for 15 years. During the building of the library, it was considered one of the most needed buildings on campus, and it won first-place from the South Carolina Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and a merit award in 1966 from the American Institute of Architects: Health, Education and Welfare Education Facilities Laboratory Design Awards Program.
Cooper Library was designed by Lyles, Bissett, Carlisle, & Wolff from Columbia, South Carolina who all graduated from Clemson's Architecture program. They also designed and built Johnstone Hall at Clemson and many other buildings at different universities and colleges in South Carolina. The architects chose to include an outdoor reading porch and a plan with one entrance and exit to reduce the stealing of books. Everything was made to serve a purpose including the reflecting pond which serves as a condenser water cooling pool that circulates through the air conditioning units in the library as well as surrounding buildings.
In 2015, work was done within the library to update it to be compatible with digital learning by adding a new learning and research laboratory space.