Program Spotlight: The University Library At the heart of campus, both physically and virtually, is the University Library.
The 21st century liberal arts library is a teaching organization that collaborates with faculty to prepare students for life-long learning as informed global citizens.
~ The University Library mission statement
Washington and Lee University students enjoy fabulous resources to support their academic and social lives. At the heart of campus, both physically and virtually, is the University Library, which provides reference and instruction services, research and popular resources and welcoming spaces for the undergraduate campus community.
The University Library primarily serves students and faculty in the College and the Williams School of Commerce, Economics and Politics. It includes just under two dozen faculty librarians and staff, nearly two million print and electronic books and other resources, and two physical library facilities.
Library faculty teach students what information is, how to access and evaluate different kinds of information, and how to best make use of the information available to them. By defining information and research skills outside the context of any particular discipline or department, the library’s instruction program helps students transfer essential skills across courses and throughout their academic career, while also providing opportunities to tailor them to specific fields of study. In the 2019-2020 academic year, library faculty taught over a quarter of the undergraduate student body through embedded lectures. Librarians are also the core faculty in the Digital Culture and Information (DCI) minor, which includes popular courses such as Introduction to Data in the Humanities and Communication Through the Web.
The University Library is committed to getting the information resources – books, journals, databases, videos, etc. – that students and faculty need. In the 2020 year, the library had more than 650,000 items in print, plus an electronic collection of just under 1.4 million items. Even with this wealth of resources, there are times when students may need something that the library does not own or license. Luckily, the library’s participation in a robust international lending network allows us to get the materials they need, quickly and for free, from libraries around the world.
“The library is an important center of belonging for students who need a home away from home – a place where they can study and play, learn and share, engage and rest,” said K.T. Vaughan, Hal F. and Barbra Buckner Higginbotham University Librarian.
Right behind the Colonnade is the James Graham Leyburn Library, one of the most heavily used buildings on campus. Leyburn welcomes 10,000 visitors per week in a normal academic year. The Robert Lee Telford Science Library, a small branch housing the science books and study spaces, is next door inside the Science Addition. Both libraries are open 24 hours a day during the academic term. The library is actively developing welcoming spaces for all students, by addressing accessibility barriers, bringing in diverse art, and creating study areas that support different ways of learning.
One of the most popular locations in Leyburn Library is Special Collections and Archives. Special Collections is a treasure trove of resources and expertise on the history of the university, Rockbridge County and the Shenandoah Valley.
The separately administered Wilbur C. Hall Law Library serves the Law School.