Chapter 2: Types of branch libraries – Academic Branch Libraries in Changing Times


Types of branch libraries


This chapter will discuss the various definitions and flavors of branch libraries. The website environmental scan will be analyzed. A discussion on the state of the remaining undergraduate libraries, popular in the second half of the twentieth century, will ensue. Examples of departmental libraries and unique arrangements will be illustrated.

Key words

discipline specific branch libraries

undergraduate libraries

departmental libraries


Before we delve into the different types of branch libraries, let’s first define what we mean by the term branch academic library – what are branch libraries?

Library literature sometimes draws fine distinctions between college libraries, departmental libraries, seminar collections and divisional libraries. Obviously, some libraries serve a ‘college’ such as law, business, or medicine, and some serve a department, such as romance languages, biology or geology. Aside from that academic distinction they are here considered one and the same provided they are located in quarters other than the central library building and are serving one or several connected disciplines. They are generally located in the building that is headquarters for the field of study, or adjacent to it. Regardless of administrative organization, the staff works closely with the faculty involved. (Hamlin, 1981: 172)

In 1991, Leon Shkolnik distinguished three types of branch libraries:

1. Professional library, such as a law or medicine library. They’re considered specialized libraries and should not be incorporated into the main library.

2. Undergraduate library, whose services are different from the modern research library.

3. Departmental library, which serves a university department. (Shkolnik, 1991: 343)

Since 1991, this view has actually evolved. Many of the undergraduate libraries have closed; departmental libraries that serve a single university department have merged or were consolidated into a branch library serving broader subjects. We will briefly review them in this chapter.

The National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) report on the 2000 Academic Libraries Survey, authored by Nancy Carey and Natalie M. Justh (2000), contains the following definition of an academic library:

An entity in a post-secondary institution that provides all of the following:

 an organized collection of printed or other materials, or a combination thereof;

 a staff trained to provide and interpret such materials as required to meet the informational, cultural, recreational, or educational needs of clientele;

 an established schedule in which services of the staff are available to clientele;

 the physical facilities necessary to support such a collection, staff, and schedule. (Carey, 2003: 4–5)

The authors continue:

Branch and independent libraries are defined as auxiliary library service outlets with quarters separate from the central library that houses the basic collection. The central library administers the branches.

When ARL conducted its survey in 1983 which resulted in SPEC Kit 99 – Branch libraries in ARL institutions, no directions were given as to what would be considered a branch institution. When summarizing the results this deficiency was acknowledged: ‘… some respondents noted that they had difficulty in deciding what information to report because the survey terminology for describing branches varies from local terms such as “departmental library” and “reading room”. Most chose to interpret the guidelines broadly.’ (SPEC Kit 99, 1)

The oversight from 1983 was corrected in 1999 when ARL conducted another survey on branch academic libraries. In 1999 the following definition of a branch library was given:

Typically distant from the main campus library, but within proximity to the department, school, or college that it serves. Most often branch libraries house subject-based or subject specific collections. Often offer the same level of public service as the main library of the parent institution and have a direct administrative relationship with the main library. (SPEC Kit 255, pp. 7–8)

The Online Dictionary for Library and Information Science defines the branch library as follows:

An auxiliary service outlet in a library system, housed in a facility separate from the central library, which has at least a basic collection of materials, a regular staff, and established hours, with a budget and policies determined by the central library. A branch library is usually managed by a branch librarian who may have responsibility for more than one branch. (

According to David Lee King, author of Designing the Digital Experience (King, 2008), a branch library has:

 a building



 a community.

These four elements, according to King, apply to every branch, physical or digital.

Discipline specific branch libraries

In this section we will discuss centralized branch libraries that cover one or more subjects. These branch libraries are by far the majority of branch libraries on university campuses in the US. Most of these branches support one or two schools at the university. Subjects covered by subject branches over the years change depending on the changes that occur within the school they serve. Sometimes, as is the example at Temple University, changing the subject coverage necessitates changing the name of the branch as well. A more detailed overview of specific subject branches can be found in Chapter 3: Most Common Subject Branch Libraries.

Analysis of academic libraries websites (June 2010)

On June 7, 2010, an environmental scan of the websites from all public and private ARL member US universities, a total of 101 libraries, was conducted. Information was printed and that information regarding their branch libraries was later analyzed (see Appendix B: ARL US Academic Member Libraries – August 16, 2010). An inventory of the most common subject branch libraries, as listed on the websites, is presented in Table 2.1 and Figure 2.1. It was noted that a very wide variety of subjects are covered – over 100 different branch names. The subjects themselves covered by each of these branches were not analyzed. The analysis was purely based on the name of the branch. If a branch was named after a noted person, most often the subject is also indicated in the name. Table 2.1 shows the summary of the number of branch libraries by subject. The most common branch libraries, as the table illustrates, are Music (46) and Engineering, Mathematics and Architecture (27 each). These results are very similar to the findings from 1983, Table 2.2 although the number of branches per subject in all subjects is lower. However, it is hard to make a meaningful comparison, since the data was tabulated in a different manner.

Table 2.1

Number of branches by subjects, 2010 data from websites

Branch Type No. Branches % of 101 libraries
Architecture 27 27%
Art 14 14%
Business 19 19%
Chemistry 20 20%
East Asian 10 10%
Engineering 27 27%
Fine Arts 17 17%
Geology 12 12%
Mathematics 27 27%
Music 46 46%
Physics 15 15%
Rare Books/Special Collections 22 22%
Science 17 17%
Science and Engineering 21 21%

Table 2.2

Number of branches per subject, ARL 1983 survey

Branch Type No. Branches % of 89 responses
Architecture 33 37%
Business 34 38%
Chemistry 37 42%
Engineering 39 440%
Geology 31 35%
Mathematics 44 49%
Music 49 550%
Physics 38 430%
Rare Books/Special Collections 23 26%
Sciences 23 26%

Figure 2.1 Number of branches per type, 2010 data from websites

Deciding where to include some of the branches was quite difficult. This analysis discovered a wide range of combinations for many of the subject branches. For example, many Architecture branches also have Art, or Fine Arts in their name. An interesting combination of subjects was found at the University of Michigan – Art, Architecture, and Engineering and at Temple – Engineering, Science, and Architecture. The least deviation, as far as nomenclature was recorded, was in the music and chemistry libraries. Only one music branch library was called Music and Dance, and another Music and Performing Arts. At the University of Maryland the branch that covers music is called Performing Arts Library (PAL). Although at PAL the dominant subject by far is music, this branch was not included in the count for music libraries. Some chemistry libraries were called Chemistry & Biology, Chemistry & Mathematics, or Chemistry & Physics.

An interesting example of a subject specific branch library going through transitions due to changes at the University schools and departments is the Science, Engineering & Architecture branch library at Temple University. Founded in 1884, Temple College became Temple University in 1907 and has evolved into a comprehensive urban research and academic institution. The 39,000 students of this public research institution can choose from 9 campuses and 320 academic degree programs. (, accessed August 15, 2010)

The Science, Engineering & Architecture Library under this name existed until the Summer of 2010. Then, the architecture collection was moved into the main library, the Samuel S. Paley Library. Liaison, instruction and collection development responsibilities for architecture were moved to the Art & Architecture Librarian. After this transition, the branch continued to exist as the Science & Engineering Library.

This current change was not the only one for the Temple science branches. In 2006 four science branches (Mathematical Sciences, Chemistry, Biology and Physics) were closed due to space needs within the academic departments. The only branch that was left from the previous Temple Library’s department of Engineering & Science Libraries was the Engineering & Architecture Library. As a result of the closing of the four branches, the Engineering & Architecture Library was reconfigured as the Science, Engineering & Architecture Library.

Undergraduate library

Undergraduate libraries became popular at academic institutions in the US in the second half of the twentieth century. In 1983 the ARL survey reported 22 undergraduate branches or 25 percent of the 89 reporting ARL member libraries. In 2010, only nine of the 101 ARL US member institutions (or 9 percent) had a branch under the name of Undergraduate Library (UGL). For some institutions with existing UGL, the branch contained the word ‘undergraduate’ but their role and clientele had changed. This type of branch library, with its original mission, is an endangered species.

Origins of the University of Maryland undergraduate library

In 1965 at the University of Maryland final preparations were made for designing and opening an undergraduate library. The primary aim of this library was to play a major role in the teaching programs of the University and to provide an atmosphere conducive to learning and study. ‘The University Administration approved the Libraries proposal for the construction of an undergraduate library seating 4,000 readers and housing about 200,000 volumes’. (Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. Office of the Director of Libraries records – Annual Report, 1965/66)

The optimism from 1966 did not last long. There were numerous delays, mainly in the design of the building (which was to house two discrete entities, the Undergraduate Library and the School of Library and Information Services), but there was still excitement as this statement from the 1968/69 Annual Report implies: ‘Close and direct consultation between the Library staff and the architects has evidently paid off. We have every expectation that in the Undergraduate Library the University will have a facility which will be pleasing to use and functional and economical of operation’. (Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. Office of the Director of Libraries records – 1968/69 Annual Report)

The following year emphasis was placed on book selection and collection development. The goal was to have enough materials in the Undergraduate Library on opening day for students to identify it from the start as the place to go to get the books they wanted. Attention was also given to the planning of public services. It was noted that there were studies reporting on successes and failures of existing undergraduate libraries. It was recognized that it was difficult to predict what ‘we would need in 1972 [when the library was predicted to open] but also that we will not be able to say in 1972 what we will need in 1980’. (Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. Office of the Director of Libraries records – 1969/70 Annual Report)

The Undergraduate Library opened in January 1973 with only limited equipment and furniture. As the Spring semester progressed and as students adjusted to using the new facility, the library staff began to sense the growing importance of the role which the Undergraduate Library would be playing in the overall educational program of the campus. The undergraduate catalog of the University listed 98 departments, programs, and curricula. All but materials for science and architecture undergraduates were housed in the new facility.

Student response had been overwhelmingly favorable. A survey conducted after the first year indicated that the Undergraduate Library had a positive effect and the library and its staff were almost unanimously given superior ratings. The building was considered a desirable place to study. (Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. Office of the Director of Libraries records, 1973/74 Annual Report)

Closing of the University of Maryland undergraduate library

As previously mentioned, this enthusiasm from the annual reports did not last too long.

The issue of the place or role and the future role of the Undergraduate Library has been on the agenda of the Libraries almost since it opened in January 1973. The opening day collection was targeted to be 100,000, so a number of duplicate copies of books from McKeldin were transferred, as well as books ordered specifically for undergraduate needs. There was an approval plan for the UGL, and a separate fund so that every title in UGL would be duplicated elsewhere in the system. As the role for the UGL increased, the number of reference librarians increased from 6 to 9 (in 1996 down to 4)….

As time went on the collection was cut back, and it was expected that reference and library instruction would remain, whatever the collection. The Director soon after her arrival announced that the collection would serve only lower division undergraduates. In 1986 she announced that the UGL budget would be limited to 5 percent of the materials budget (it had been 9.6 percent in 1981–82). This was to enforce its role as lower division only. Eventually the special funds for the general reading collection was stopped. In October 1986 consultants from ARL did a report: ‘Library Services for Non-research Users at the University of Maryland, College Park’. (Merikangas, 1996)

In February 1997 a study led by Dr. James Klumpp, professor in the Department of Communications at University of Maryland, submitted to the Dean of the Library, Charles Lowry, the report entitled Undergraduate Library Services in the 21st Century. In this report, the section ‘Findings Regarding the Current Undergraduate Library’ is extremely critical of the Undergraduate Library.

The current undergraduate facility located in Hornbake reveals both crisis conditions mandating change and glimpses of the virtue of a separate undergraduate facility. Many characteristics point to the crisis:

 The facility is currently substandard. The collection is large but generally of poor quality. The periodical collection has been diminished to the point where it is no longer a meaningful site for research. The reference collection has shrunk to the point where the reference staff cannot fulfill their mission to undergraduates. The reserve room is the surviving effective unit but is using equipment so old that it cannot now be updated.

 The facility has no apparent collection policy. The team is not at all certain that a viable method of separating ‘undergraduate’ and ‘graduate’ or ‘research’ collections is possible. A sound collection policy would establish a duplicate collection built around a particular mission. Duplicate collections have been largely sacrificed in the current fiscal crisis.

 Utilization of Hornbake Library is diminishing except for the reserve services (and the Nonprint Media Center which is not organized as part of the undergraduate facility). The turnstile count at Hornbake decreased 30 percent between 1989 and 1995, and 5 percent between 1992 and 1995. From 1992 to 1995, loans from the Hornbake collection diminished 40 percent, volumes reshelved declined by a third. The decline in different kinds of reference questions during that period ranged from 15 percent to 90 percent. The only healthy increase in use during this time was the nearly 50 percent increase in reserve use. Students report that going to Hornbake to research for a course project is useless since the material they need will not be found there. Students soon decide simply to begin their work in McKeldin, thus bypassing services designed to improve undergraduate use.

 The erosion in the quality of Hornbake and uncertainty about its future has created discernable erosion of morale among Hornbake staff. We also observe related problems at McKeldin created by the combination of the historical ‘undergraduate/ graduate’ distinction between the two facilities and the feeling of being overrun by undergraduate students who ‘belong’ at Hornbake.

 Structural and fiscal forces within the UMCP libraries have resulted in the weakening of the undergraduate library. We do not mean to imply that anyone has consciously pursued the erosion of undergraduate services. But natural pressures common in a research university have resulted in decisions that have had an adverse effect. Fiscally, logical decisions to eliminate duplication in collections have left the undergraduate library collection so eroded as to destroy its usefulness. Decisions to meet staff cuts where openings existed, however logical in the short term, have left services for undergraduates seriously eroded. Structurally, the long ago designation of McKeldin as the ‘graduate’ or ‘research’ library has led to priorities that adversely affect undergraduates streaming into that facility which was never designed to meet their needs. Although we do not believe the erosion in undergraduate services was intentional, no safeguards were in place to recognize and halt the erosion before it became a crisis. The current state of Hornbake serves as an object-lesson as we plan for the future, a warning of how forces at work at UMCP can undercut the best of plans for undergraduate services.

At the same time, our investigation indicates key strengths of today’s undergraduate facility:

 Among the reasons students mention for going to Hornbake are: (1) more welcoming reference services, (2) study space, (3) reserves, (4) nonprint media, (5) the WAM lab, and (6) a needed book is checked out of McKeldin. Periodicals and the book collection are seldom mentioned as a reason to go to Hornbake.

 One of the primary strengths of the current Hornbake facility is its study space. On a campus with far too little quality space for our large proportion of commuter students to study, a quick tour of Hornbake will reveal the centrality of this function. Group study space is particularly important and heavily utilized.

 Students report a sense of ownership over the space at Hornbake. Here, they report, they know that the services are provided with their needs in mind. The linking of the space with undergraduate students is an important element in its attractiveness to undergraduates.

In the summer of 1997 the reference librarians from the Undergraduate/Hornbake Library moved to McKeldin. The collection was reviewed and integrated with McKeldin’s. The Hornbake building was vacated by the end of the year.

Undergraduate libraries in ARL academic libraries November 2010

The following universities have reported an undergraduate library on their website: Berkeley, Columbia, University of Illinois, Champaign, Purdue, Rutgers, University of Michigan, University of Washington, University of California at Los Angeles, and Wayne State University. However, a closer look reveals that not all have kept their ‘pure’ undergraduate profile. Berkeley, Purdue, and the University of Michigan still have an undergraduate branch, although they are referred to in conjunction with another library. Below are excerpts from the websites.

Berkeley – Doe and Moffitt Libraries (accessed November 8, 2010)

Most of the campus humanities and social sciences materials are located in Doe Library. Moffitt Library is designed as a core collection and entry point for new and undergraduate students. The Moffitt Microcomputer Facility, also located in Moffitt Library, offers personal computing and consulting services to Berkeley students, faculty and staff.

In late 1994, construction was completed on the Doe/ Moffitt Project, a four-story underground addition which connects Doe and Moffitt libraries. The addition houses the Gardner Stack and the collection formerly in Doe (, accessed November 8, 2010)

About the Moffitt Undergraduate Collection

A core collection of ‘best books’ in the liberal arts, Moffitt serves a broad campus readership of both undergraduates and non-specialists. Strong in the area of contemporary issues, the collection not only supports the undergraduate curriculum of UC Berkeley but also encourages students to educate themselves about the world outside the classroom and beyond the scope of their disciplines.

Scope & Relationship to Research Collections

Broad in scope but purposefully limited in depth, Moffitt functions as an entry-level library and gateway to the more specialized research collections of Doe and the subject specialty libraries. With these vast resources just beyond its doors, the Moffitt collection is guided by a policy of high selectivity and strives to maintain an optimal size of approximately 150,000 volumes. (, accessed November 8, 2010)

Columbia University, NY

Milstein Undergraduate Library

Columbia’s Library Services and Collections for Undergraduates

Welcome to Columbia and especially to the Libraries. Columbia University Libraries (CUL) is among the nation’s top five academic library systems, with holdings of over 9.4 million volumes, more than 100,000 print and electronic journal titles, an extensive collection of databases, manuscripts, rare books, sound recordings, films, and much more. The libraries support the instructional and research information needs of the University. Butler is the largest of the 25 libraries at Columbia and its affiliated institutions, and the one most heavily used by first-year students, especially those in Columbia College and SEAS. Undergraduates may also use the libraries of Barnard College, Teachers College (especially strong in education and related topics), and Union Theological Seminary (especially strong in religion and philosophy). (, accessed November 6, 2010)


College Library (, accessed November 29, 2010)

Welcome to the UCLA library for undergraduates, housed in the historic Powell Library Building.

Library collections support the undergraduate curriculum in the humanities, social sciences, sciences, and mathematics and also include a graphic novel collection, new fiction books, travel guides, and more. Print course reserves are also housed in the library.

Events including exhibits, concerts, and historical dances are held in the building’s rotunda throughout the year. A schedule of upcoming events is available online.

The main CLICC computer lab is located on the first floor, and there are computer classrooms on the second and third floors.

Purdue University, Indiana

Humanities, Social Science & Education Library (HSSE) and Hicks Undergraduate Library (HICKS) Hicks Undergraduate Library The about page gives only a list of links (HSSE & HIKS Faculty and Staff; Floor Plans; Map of Campus Libraries; Policies & Guidelines; Stewart Center Mural; Hicks Namesake; Historic HSSE Photos).

Wayne State University, Michigan

David Adamany Undergraduate Library

The David Adamany Undergraduate Library (UGL), located on the center of Gullen Mall, has 500 computer workstations providing students with access to electronic resources. Its book and magazine collection is intended to support the learning needs of 1000 and 2000 level undergraduate courses. It houses the University Libraries media collection of approximately 8000 videos, DVDs, laser discs and audiotapes. The Undergraduate Library also provides students with information on careers, computers, and student survival skills. (, accessed November 6, 2010)

Rutgers University, New Jersey

Mabel Smith Douglass Library History

Mabel Smith Douglass Library

Description of Collection

The newly renovated Mabel Smith Douglass Library supports the undergraduate and graduate programs across the range of humanities and social sciences on New Brunswick campus in two major areas: women’s studies and the performing arts (music, dance, theater). The women’s studies reference and research collection comprises print and non-print material and focused mainly on sexuality and gender studies, feminist theory, the history of mothers and marriage, and the history of feminist movements and women’s rights throughout the world. The robust microform collection includes the Emma Goldman Papers, Gerritsen Collection of Women’s History, Herstory, Records of the National Association of Colored Women’s Clubs (1895–1992), and Women’s Studies Manuscript Collections from the Schlesinger Library, Radcliffe College. The Women’s File, a grey literature and ephemera collection contains broadsides, clippings, newsletters, pamphlets, and reports, from the 1970s to the 1980s. The Blanche and Irving Laurie Music Library and Media Services, located in the Douglass Library, provide videos and sound recordings as well as viewing/listening devices. (, accessed November 6, 2010)

University of Washington

Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Learning Commons


The Odegaard Undergraduate Library and Learning Commons, named for University of Washington President Emeritus Charles Odegaard, serves as a center for undergraduate instruction, learning, and technology.

The University of Washington is a large and complex environment. To new students and members of the general public, the academic library system can seem overwhelming. Odegaard is a good starting point.

Odegaard houses the largest course reserve collection for disciplines not served by a branch library, the UW Libraries’ Media Center, a 100-seat multi-purpose room, the 400-seat Learning Commons, several technology spaces, a writing and research center, a 145,000 volume collection that supports curriculum and study at the University, and provides building-wide wireless access. Students can borrow materials from the collection using their Husky Card. A self-checkout station is available on the 1st Floor. All of the facilities and services listed above make Odegaard one of the most collaborative undergraduate libraries in the country. A branch of the UW Bookstore is located on the 1st Floor of the library. The By George restaurant, Husky Card Office, and Visitors Information Center are located on the lower level of the library building.

You may have additional questions regarding services available to you. The Odegaard website may provide answers to your questions. If not, we encourage you to visit a service desk or ask us!. (, accessed November 6, 2010)

University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign

Undergraduate Library


The Undergraduate Library provides services, collections, resources, and facilities to support students in their educational endeavors.

The library is located underground at 1402 W. Gregory St., just east of the Main Library and just west of the Morrow Plots. Immediately south of Gregory is the South Quad. North of the library is Foellinger Hall. The sidewalk on the west side of the Main Quad will lead directly to the Undergrad. (

University of Michigan, Ann Arbor

Shapiro Undergraduate Library UGL

Not much explanation, just list of links. However, the Undergraduate Library (UGL – pronounced ugly) is a landmark; it is centrally located on campus; ‘the silly name stuck with students’ – the author was told. There are very few duplicative titles. The Shapiro building is connected by a corridor to the Hatcher Graduate Library – the complex is known to locals as the Shapiro Hatcher Library.

Departmental libraries

The departmental library … is the collection that serves a department of instruction or a professional school … Its location is always convenient to the building where the particular instruction is given, and generally within the same walls. (Hamlin, 1981: 169–79)

Thompson argues that there is a distinction between collegiate libraries, found in universities, and departmental libraries in liberal arts colleges. According to him:

The collegiate library in a university is developed to furnish the material which is needed by the students and members of the faculty of a particular school or college, usually a professional school, as, for example, a school of medicine or journalism.

Thompson goes on to say that departmental libraries can be found both in professional colleges and in liberal arts colleges. However

[a] collegiate library ordinarily numbers several thousand volumes and requires a special library staff. A departmental library has a much narrower range of material and is organized to meet the needs of some teaching division in a college such as history or chemistry. (Thompson, 1942: 52)

University of Maryland departmental libraries in the 1950s and 1960s

In the 1950s there was a concerted effort at the University of Maryland to inventory departmental libraries on campus. On the College Park campus department libraries have been developed during the many years the university has been in existence. In the Biannual report 1952–53 it was acknowledged that having departmental libraries is not necessarily the best means of providing good library service. In order to determine how many such collections existed, where they were, how they were administered, and what specific remedies could be applied, a survey was made and a system set up for taking inventories and assisting in their administration. (Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. Office of the Director of Libraries records – Biannual report 1952–53, Folder 6)

In 1956 a directory of departmental libraries was made. In addition to the two branches, Chemistry Library and Engineering and Physical Sciences Library, ten functioning departmental libraries on the College Park campus were identified: Animal Husbandry, Agronomy, Botany, Bureau of Governmental Research, Bureau of Business and Economic Research, Dairy Husbandry, Education (Institute of Child Study), Entomology, Horticulture, and Veterinary Science. Additionally, numerous small office collections, about 37, were identified. Although the occasional ephemeral material and books added to these collections were not cataloged, for insurance purposes all holdings were reported to the Office of Finance and Business. (Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. Office of the Director of Libraries records – Annual Report 1958/59)

The survey brought out the fact that collections varied from small office collections of several volumes to organized libraries of several thousand volumes. It was decided to eliminate from the card catalog all cards for office collections, as the materials in them were not generally available, and to consider only 14 collections as departmental libraries. A Memo established the new policy: the heads of appropriate divisional reading rooms have responsibility for supervision of these libraries. The Reference Department prepared a directory of these libraries indicating, for each library, the card catalog symbol, the person in charge, loan regulations, and hours of service. (Special Collections, University of Maryland Libraries. Office of the Director of Libraries records – Annual Report 1959/60, Folder 7)

In the 1960s there was an effort to integrate these dispersed collections into the Libraries systems, as was stated in the Annual report of 1960/61. The first two collections, Agronomy and Animal Husbandry, were completely integrated into the McKeldin Library (main library on campus) in 1961. The other collections were integrated in subsequent years. Although this trend continued in the following years, by 1966 the Annual report gives the activity of the branch libraries, without mentioning the departmental libraries. The University of Maryland Libraries no longer lists departmental libraries.

Contemporary situation

Departmental collections are controlled by a department and are located in the department’s building. Some university libraries choose to list these departmental libraries on the Libraries web site, as in the example of the University of Minnesota. The following departmental libraries are listed from the Libraries website (

 Waite Library in the Department of Applied Economics. ‘Anyone may use the library, but materials may only be checked out by faculty and graduate students in the Applied Economics Department.’

 Guy Stanton Ford Memorial Library housed in a room at the Department of History.

 Georgianna E. Herman Reference Room of the Center for Human Resources and Labor Studies. This is a departmental library funded by the Carlson School of Management. Although anyone may use materials in the collection, only faculty and graduate students of the Center can check them out.

We will discuss in more detail several examples of contemporary departmental libraries with varying levels of dependence and connection to the main campus library.

CERES Library (Georgetown University)

Sometimes, a departmental library collection is added to a library’s online catalog, but the departmental library is managed independently from the main library. One example is Georgetown University’s Center for Eurasian, Russian and East European Studies (CERES) Library. The CERES Center directs one of the nation’s preeminent Master’s Degree programs and hosts a rich outreach program of events on the region for K-12 educators and wider audiences in Washington, DC and nationwide. CERES is a US Department of Education Title VI funded resource center. Since 2006 the CERES library collection has been fully catalogued and added to the Georgetown University Library holdings.

The CERES Library grew from the need of students in the CERES program to have a gathering place between classes, to share lunch with colleagues and faculty, and prepare for classes. Materials for the CERES Library initially came from faculty donations, as well as faculty and student recommendations. Until March 2006 a graduate student working 10 hours per week was responsible for ‘cataloging’ and maintaining an excel spreadsheet with titles in the collection. The business manager oversaw the check-out and return of materials. This arrangement worked well while the collection was small. As the collection grew to over 2,000 items, keeping track of the loans became cumbersome. It was also noted that popular titles simply disappeared from the collection; no matter how many times the title was purchased.

In 2005, therefore, the Director of the CERES Center approached the Library liaisons at Georgetown University to discuss the possibility of including the CERES collection in the Georgetown University library catalog. A meeting between Lauinger Library representatives from the Cataloging department, Access Services, the two subject liaisons, and CERES resulted in the agreement for adding CERES Library as one of the campus library locations. Soon after, the Lauinger Cataloging Department added the collection to George, the University online catalog; the location CERES Library was added; and the entire video collection was transferred to the Gelardin New Media Center in Lauinger Library. In the Spring of 2006 the Center moved to its current location, more spacious quarters, and the new CERES Library opened. The Library is at the far end of the CERES suite. To get the most out of the space, beautiful wooden book shelves were placed against the walls. The Library has a security gate, a self-check machine, two computer workstations, and seating for 10. The equipment was purchased with CERES funds. A courier from Lauinger Library makes daily rounds to pick up and deliver materials. New materials are cataloged at Lauinger.

The current collection includes over 2,250 books on the history, politics, economics and cultures of the region as well as language study and reference materials. The CERES collection complements the collection at Lauinger. The Center maintains online subscriptions to over 100 regional newspapers and journals, as well as an array of reports, press clippings and current events databases that canvas the region. The library also provides reserve services for CERES courses during the academic year. The Library is managed by a parttime graduate student.

Maurer Library (University of Maryland)

At the University of Maryland, College Park (UMCP), an undertaking similar to CERES was implemented in 1999. With much publicity the Lucille Maurer Leadership Library was opened. Named after Lucille Maurer (1923–1996), a Maryland legislator whose expertise in public finance led her to the post of State Treasurer, the Library serves the James MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership. The collection, which consisted mainly of 814 titles and 918 volumes (as of the 8-3-10 SCIMI report), almost all of them already available in the main campus library stacks (McKeldin Library), was cataloged and added to the UM Libraries catalog. Initial meetings between the Director of Technical Services and Maurer representatives established the needs and goals for the Maurer collection. Procedures were approved by both parties, new collection codes established and working contacts established. Circulation staff established procedures to ensure the collection was blocked from patron holds and from interlibrary loan. The collection required only differentiation between monographs, journals and media. Some volumes, owned by James MacGregor Burns, contained either his signature or were presentation copies signed by other prominent individuals. Those copies required an additional item note. With ground work complete, volumes arrived at controlled intervals for addition to UMCP and the University System of Maryland’s Integrated Library System (Aleph) catalog. After labeling, volumes returned to the contact in the Maurer Library. Very few volumes were sent for processing once the collection was completed.

The collection, housed in a beautiful newly designed space in the Academy of Leadership building, was available for in-house use on the premises of the Maurer Library. A graduate student was responsible for the collection and the Library. However, over time, the Leadership Institute was not able to secure staff to manage the collection and provide library hours; the space became more a space for conducting events than browsing and using the collection.

In 2009, 10 years after the opening of the Maurer library, and five years after the last new title was added to the collection, discussions started on removing the Maurer holdings from the College Park online catalog. Since December 2009 the MacGregor Burns Academy of Leadership is no longer housed at the University of Maryland. (http://, accessed August 15, 2010)

Qatar Library (Georgetown University)

As universities open campuses overseas, a new form of branch library is also happening. Let’s take the example of the Georgetown School of Foreign Service (SFS) campus in Qatar. The campus opened in the Fall of 2005. Soon after, a library was established. The hiring of staff, selection of materials, processing of materials, design of the space, and other logistics were done by staff on the main campus library, the Lauinger Library in Washington, DC. When first opened, the Qatar Library director reported to the Dean of SFS, with a dotted reporting line to Lauinger’s Associate University Director for Public Services.

Currently, the Qatar Library employs six full-time librarians, one part-time librarian and two support staff. The Library operates completely independently from Lauinger, although they share the catalog and some of the resources. All electronic resources are negotiated for access to both locations whenever possible. Payment is shared. Selection, ordering and cataloging of materials housed in Qatar are all handled by Qatar staff. The Qatar Library is preparing to move to their permanent location on the other side of the Georgetown SFS in Qatar campus in Fall 2010. This time the move will be handled entirely by Qatar staff.


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