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Neilson Library Will Soon Offer the Best Seats Around

Much has changed since 1908 when ground was broken for Smith’s first library. Designed as the physical and intellectual center of the campus, the original library—now known as Neilson—has undergone many additions and renovations as collections multiplied and academic needs grew. In addition, the library’s traditional role as a learning center has intensified in the digital age when maintaining an outstanding collection of print materials is as important as offering an expanding array of digital resources, professional expertise (preferably 24 hours a day) and the latest hardware and software programs.

It’s a trend that is transforming undergraduate libraries all over the country. In fact, in the coming year, a new Information Commons will be unveiled on Neilson Library’s first floor. Several elements are key to the redesign: more comfortable and informal seating arrangement, new computer terminals, group study space and clusters of workstations to accommodate the students who like to study and work in a friendly ambience. The alterations, library officials say, reflect the changing ways that undergraduates are said to discover and use information.

The new commons will provide students with a hub for research assistance, technical support and study in agreeable surroundings that accommodate both individual and group work.

Meanwhile, Smith’s libraries continue to expand print and digital collections while delivering in-person and virtual services that support a widening range of courses and research interests at the college.

Of course, most students these days want the library to be not only a place to study but also a virtual presence that delivers information straight to their personal computers. If a student wants to find a quick answer to a question, reference librarians are, for now, accessible by e-mail, phone and through an interactive online chat room.

Soon though, in recognition of what unquestionably has become a medium of communication in which many college students are most comfortable, librarians will have their own IM screen names and make themselves available to students via an instant messaging service.

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