New Spaces, New Tools: A User's Guide to Smith Libraries

With the renovation of Neilson Library, Erin Brozek ’18 was concerned about what would happen to her research and study routines in her final semesters at Smith.

But after working for Smith College libraries this summer, she is confident her routines will be well supported while a new library is being constructed.

“There are lots of new resources and study spaces available,” says Brozek, who is majoring in English and plans a career in publishing or library science. “Also, there are lots of librarians on campus to help.”

During the renovation of Neilson, the focus of library activity has moved to three other campus libraries: Young Library in Bass Hall, Hillyer Art Library in the Brown Fine Arts Center and Josten Performing Arts Library in Mendenhall Center for the Performing Arts.

Smith library staff members are available on-site and online to help students with research projects and provide other vital support services. A new “Meet with Us” button on the Smith libraries website—an essential platform for research, accessing articles and e-books, and requesting other materials—is a quick and easy way to set up appointments. Campus community members can also call the libraries at 413-585-2910.

Susan Fliss, dean of libraries at Smith, says maintaining continuity of services has been an important part of planning for a new Neilson.

One of the new study spaces in Young Library.

“All library services that were provided at Neilson are available in the three current libraries on campus, and our librarians and staff are happy to work with students in other study spaces at Smith,” Fliss says. “I encourage campus community members to save time and contact us with questions through Ask Us—or call or stop by any campus library and share ideas for making library services more accessible.”

Academic centers that until this summer had been housed in Neilson—including the Center for Media Production, Kahn Liberal Arts Institute and Spinelli Center for Quantitative Learning—are up and running in new quarters on campus.

Brozek—who spent the summer helping to develop new study tools and produce a video about Smith library services—says she is looking forward to using the libraries this semester. “The collection has been moved, but the library is still here on campus,” she says.

A “Here’s My Library” open house for all three campus libraries will be held on Thursday, Oct. 12, from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Following is a brief user’s guide to Smith library services.

  • Keeping It Local: Nearly everything that used to be done at Neilson can still be done on campus—from viewing rare book manuscripts to picking up materials on reserve. Hillyer and Josten libraries are open with extended hours, and Young Library in the science quadrangle is a hub for circulation and reserves, book requests, research assistance and study spaces. (Young, Hillyer and Josten even have individual shelf space available for storing books.) Access to Smith’s outstanding special collections—including the Sophia Smith Collection of women’s history, College Archives and the Mortimer Rare Book Collection—will be easily available on the second floor reading room of Young, beginning Tuesday, Sept 5. Hillyer and Josten libraries have extensive visual and performing arts collections, with comfortable nooks for studying and knowledgeable staff ready to offer assistance.
  • Collections—Five College and Beyond: The bulk of Neilson and Young’s print collections have been temporarily moved to the new Five Colleges Library Annex in Hatfield, Mass. Items stored in the annex can be requested through the Five College Library Catalog beginning Tuesday, Sept. 5. Books, journals and more will be delivered to Young Library twice daily, Monday through Friday. Materials from libraries around the country are also available through the interlibrary loan program.
  • Study Spaces: The libraries’ new SmithScape app includes 80 group and individual spaces searchable by type of space, lighting, ambient noise—even by amenities such as whiteboards and vending machines. Get ready to discover some surprising on-campus study nooks and crannies!
  • Creative Spaces: The KnowledgeLab, now located in Seelye Hall B4, is a participatory space that can accommodate pop-up installations, events and student projects along the themes of knowledge creation, knowledge sharing and the future of libraries.
  • Digital Toolkit: In addition to SmithScape, other new innovative library tools include the Discover search tab on the Smith libraries home page and the Visual Browse tool for exploring the latest books and materials in the catalog. Be sure to check out Smith ScholarWorks, a repository of digital scholarship and research materials created and curated by Smith students, faculty and staff.

    Designer Maya Lin’s drawing for the new Neilson.

  • A New Neilson: Smith’s new library is being designed to advance and celebrate learning. Designer Maya Lin’s plan preserves the original 1909 structure and reimagines the rest of the library complex as a vital hub for 21st century scholarship. Construction, which began this summer, will be completed for the fall semester of 2020. The latest updates on the new Neilson are available online.