The Jacobson Center, on the third floor of Seelye Hall, is at the heart of Smith’s efforts to help faculty to become better teachers and students to become better learners and effective writers. Many English majors have gone to the center for help with papers, and a number have worked for the center as writing assistants.
The center offers students several services including writing counseling; tutoring; and workshops on time management, study skills and other academic issues. Faculty can take advantage of writing and teaching colloquia, a library of materials about teaching and learning, and individual consultation on classroom issues.
The Smith College Poetry Center, located in Wright Hall, sponsors a series of readings by established and emerging poets, publishes poetry broadsides, offers prizes, and in other ways acts to promote the reading and writing of poetry at Smith and in the Pioneer Valley.
One of Smith’s most important resources is the Mortimer Rare Book Room, located on the second floor of Young Library during the Neilson Library renovation project. Here are gathered Smith’s holdings—extraordinary in quality and in number, especially for a liberal arts college—of rare books and manuscripts, including many items in English and American literature. There are especially significant collections of writings by Sylvia Plath, Ernest Hemingway, Virginia Woolf and Eudora Welty.
Many faculty members in English hold classes in the Rare Book Room or in other ways seek to introduce its holdings to students; the department urges all its students to take advantage of this remarkable resource.
In recent years, faculty members in the department have worked with Neilson Library staff to identify those skills—especially skills in doing research on the Internet and with other electronic media—necessary for work in the major. In the view both of the department and the Neilson librarians, “information literacy” is “the ability to conceptualize what literacy information is needed combined with the skills necessary to locate, evaluate, and use this information effectively and ethically.”