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Williams College Employee Handbook

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The College Libraries

General Description

The Williams College Libraries consist of collections in the humanities and social sciences in Sawyer Library; the sciences and psychology in the Schow Science Library; and college history and special materials in the Archives and Special Collections Department. In 2007 the College began an ambitious building project involving the construction of two academic buildings, an integrated library and information technology center, and an off-site shelving facility. The construction of these buildings will impact the collections and services of the Libraries until the opening of the new library/IT facility. For more details and updates on the construction project, see:


The Libraries' collections include more than:

  • 879,000 books
  • 1,300 print magazine and journal subscriptions
  • 394,000 government documents
  • 30,000 sound recordings
  • 10,700 video recordings

While the collections focus on materials needed to support courses, they also contain books and magazines for leisure reading, music CDs, and feature films.

The Libraries' online collections include over 19,000 electronic journals, indexes and databases, and reference materials. Most of the print and online collections, as well as some of the material held in the Chapin Library, described below, are listed in the online catalog, FRANCIS ( Online resources can be accessed anywhere on campus and users with a network login can use these resources off-campus by using the proxy server.

For links to FRANCIS, online resources, and further information about the library see the Libraries' web site (


The Williams College ID serves as the library card for faculty and staff. Spouses and dependent children are also granted library borrowing privileges, and may obtain an ID through Campus Safety and Security. College employees and spouses may check out books and audiovisual materials; periodicals and reference materials must be used in the library. Dependent children may only check out book materials. Books may be renewed online through FRANCIS, but are subject to recall after two weeks when needed by others and at any time when required for reserve. All borrowers are responsible for those items checked out to them; lost materials will be billed.

For more information on borrowing policies and loan periods see:


Through the Libraries' membership in Boston Library Consortium (BLC) and NExpress, college employees and spouses have access to approximately 25 million volumes available at larger research libraries and private colleges in New England. Both consortia allow borrower-initiated searching and requesting of materials from partner libraries through their online catalogs. For items not available through these consortia, the Interlibrary Loan department can request books, articles, and other materials from libraries throughout the U.S. and around the world.

For more information on borrowing from other libraries see:


Research assistance is available at the Research Help Desk in Sawyer Library and at the Services Desk at Schow Science Library. Librarians answer questions at the desk, by phone, and by e-mail and also schedule individual research appointments for more in-depth research questions.

For contact information and hours of operation see:


Details on how to order materials for the collection, place materials on reserve for a course, request library instruction for a course, and designate a research assistant are available on the Libraries' faculty information page:

Chapin Library

The Chapin Library of rare books and manuscripts is a separately administered, non-circulating collection of more than 50,000 volumes, together with nearly 100,000 other items, including letters, documents, broadsides, bookplates, sheet music, prints, drawings, paintings, photographs, artifacts, and graphic ephemera. These materials range from the early 9th century to the present, and represent all fields of learning. In addition, the Library has an extensive reference collection which is a notable local resource for the interpretation and understanding of rare and scholarly books. All of the Library's printed books are cataloged online in FRANCIS. Guides to its extensive holdings of historical and literary manuscripts are being prepared for access through the Chapin website.

The Chapin Library encourages use by individual students, whose course work, independent studies, and personal interests can often benefit from access to primary sources. The Chapin also welcomes research use by Williams faculty and staff, and is open to visiting scholars. In cooperation with faculty, Chapin staff are happy to arrange presentations to class groups of items from the Library's collections.

The Chapin Library's reading room, exhibition gallery, and offices on the second floor of Stetson Hall will be closed to all users, and general services will be suspended, from January 1, 2008 until the beginning of Fall Term 2008, while the Chapin collections are packed and moved in advance of construction of the new library. From 2008 until 2011, the bulk of these holdings will be housed in off-site storage. More frequently used items, however, including thousands of books and manuscripts requested by the faculty for class presentation and use, will be available from September 2008 at the Library's temporary quarters in the Southworth Schoolhouse on Southworth Street in Williamstown.

While the Chapin Library is absent from Stetson Hall, selected items from its collections, including the Founding Documents of the United States, will be on view in the Williams College Museum of Art.

Hours of Service

Hours of operation for Sawyer, Schow, and Archives are listed on the Williams College Libraries website at Special hours during breaks and over the summer are also noted.

Hours of operation for Chapin Library are listed at

Faculty Handbook . | . Administrative Staff Handbook . | . Support Staff Handbook