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The New Neilson Library

Nighttime rendering of Neilson Library from Green Street

A Destination College Deserves a Destination Library

Since it opened in 1909, Neilson Library has been the academic heart of Smith College. We have now embarked on Neilson’s next phase—a comprehensive renovation that will transform our library into a technology-infused hub filled with active learning areas, the right balance of print and digital resources, and flexible spaces that support the entrepreneurial spirit of our students.

The renovation will feature two new wings, dubbed “jewel boxes” by Maya Lin. The new south wing will bring together special collections—the Sophia Smith Collection, Rare Books and College Archives—creating one-stop access to these important, rich materials and the staff who study and care for them. The new north wing will be filled with spaces to support active learning and scholarship, entrepreneurship and innovation. It will also include a cafe and digital media hub that will bring the community together. Altogether the project will focus on natural light, an energy-efficient design, cutting-edge technology and flexible, collaborative work spaces.

Our vision is bold. We must be ambitious in order to meet the needs and expectations of students and scholars today and into the future.

Kathleen McCartney portrait

“When Neilson reopens in 2020, it will reflect the good ideas of our entire community. It will be responsive and nimble to new ways of teaching, learning and connecting. It will be a library that celebrates what Smith does best—educate women for leadership.”

—Kathleen McCartney, President

Why I Give

“This is a proud moment for Smith and an incredible opportunity for all of us as a community to put our support behind a project that will transform the campus in profound ways, showcasing once again how Smith is committed to providing a one-of-a-kind educational experience for women. I only wish I could start my own four years over again once the new library is completed!”
—Madeleine Fackler ’80, trustee and co-chair, President’s Library Roundtable (shown below at right)

Groundbreaking for the new Neilson Library
Ground was officially broken for the new Neilson Library Thursday, October 19, 2017. Left to right: Susan Fliss, dean of libraries; Deborah L. Duncan ’77, chair of the Board of Trustees; Maya Lin, architectural designer; Kathleen McCartney, president; Katherine Rowe, provost and dean of the faculty; and Madeleine Fackler ’80, trustee and co-chair of the President’s Library Roundtable.

“Maya Lin’s vision for the old Carnegie-funded library is magnificent. Her plan to use light and glass and elements of nature brings drama and 21st-century imagination to the project. Reading nooks that can be reconfigured for solitary study or collaborative work and special spaces for meeting with friends or perusing a book on one’s own will make the new Neilson more user friendly in the manner students want and expect today. But most of all the new Neilson will be a destination for students, faculty, alumnae and the community because of its extraordinary architecture and landscape. Brava the reimagining of Neilson Library!”
—Lile Rasmuson Gibbons ’64, co-chair, President’s Library Roundtable

“As a loyal supporter of Smith for over 60 years and a lover of libraries, it gives my family great joy to invest in Smith’s future—the reimagining of Neilson Library.”
—Pat Klingenstein ’51

Philanthropic Support

Transforming a century-old library into a modern, multifunctional teaching and learning center requires great vision, ambition and philanthropic support.

Neilson Renovation Giving Opportunities

The $120 million renovation of Neilson presents an exciting, once-in-a-generation opportunity for alumnae, parents and friends of Smith to partner with the college.

  • Gifts of $250,000 or more will be recognized with an individual naming opportunity.
  • Gifts of $100,000 or more will be included in a community recognition display.
  • Gifts can also be directed through the Smith Fund: Resourceful Smith designation.

Programming Initiatives & Services Giving Opportunities

Smith College Libraries are developing state-of-the-art programs and servies that will transform teaching, learning and research at Smith.

  • Endowed Funds: Gifts of $250,000 or more will generate income toward a designated libraries fund and place the donor's choice of name on that endowement in perpetuity. See pdf above for fund details.
  • Annual Giving: Gifts of any amount can support the libraries through The Smith Fund's Resourceful Smith designation. Certain programs can be supported directly by gifts of $50,000 or more.
  • Planned Gifts: These gifts include those created through a will, living trust, retirement plan and more. Some tools such as gift annuities create an income streat to the donor or a designee. Funds start at $250,000. Please inquire.

Learn More

For opportunities to support the library, contact:

Betsy Carpenter ’93
Associate Vice President of Development


For more information and updates on the project, visit the libraries’ website.

The New Neilson: Exterior

In designing the new Neilson, architectural designer Maya Lin envisioned a “glowing central hub that revitalizes the center of the campus.” Steel, wood, stone and glass mix to make a bold statement about the environment, sustainability and the beauty of the Smith campus.

The New Neilson: Interior

Inside Neilson, visitors will feel the surge of intellectual excitement, curiosity and creativity that occurs when a community of scholars converges in the pursuit of knowledge.