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The Science Library is easily one of the most beautiful indoor study locations on campus. The library is almost completely enclosed by glass windows; the bank of windows on the north side of the library overlooks the residential quad of North Bowl, while the south side offers a view of the busy Commons, and further in the distance is Finney Chapel and Wilder Bowl. Natural wood furnishings complement the spacious and airy feeling of the room's high ceilings.

Centrally located adjacent to the Commons area, the library is easily accessible to all Oberlin scientists. Because science is not a solitary endeavor, study areas accommodate both individual and group work. Students working on their own can use one of the individual study carrels around the perimeter of the journal stacks and adjacent to the book collection. Carrels may be signed out for the semester, and are open to any student seeking a quiet space. These carrels all have live data connections, allowing students to connect laptop computers, and have Internet access.

Several options exist for group work. Two group study rooms near the library's entrance are in great demand, as students gather for study sessions or meetings with professors. It's not unusual to see the whiteboards in these rooms covered with scrawled equations. Tables along the south side of the library and within the reference area provide a place for small groups to spread out their work and converse without distracting other library patrons. All of the library tables are wired with power and live data connections.

A relatively new program allows library patrons to check out laptop computers with wireless adapters for up to three hours. They can then use the wireless connection to the Internet while enjoying the atmosphere on the outdoor patio or in the Commons.

The library also contains a large computer classroom equipped with 16 iMac computers; There are 15 student workstations, plus an instructor's workstation. Each of the student workstations is at a table with two chairs, and students frequently work at the iMacs in teams of two or more. This room is fitted with a ceiling-mounted projection unit and other audio-visual equipment and, among other purposes, is used by the library staff to educate students on accessing scientific resources. Students need this knowledge from the very start of their science education, as research is incorporated into every level of Oberlin's science curricula.

The new library is more than twice as large as the old library in Kettering Hall. Space for the collection was greatly expanded in the new library, making more of the collection readily available to faculty and student researchers. Electrically operated compact movable shelving—which nearly triples storage capacity over regular shelving—combined with the acquisition of more journals in electronic form, will allow for 17 years of growth in the journal collection and increases the availability of the current journal collection. Storage capacity for books was also increased.

The convenience and beauty of the science library make it popular among scientists and non-scientists alike. “We anticipate and welcome increased use of the science library by students who are not science majors,” says Science Librarian Alison Ricker.

Usage figures from the first day of final exams in May—typically the busiest day of the year for the library—indicate that students from the arts, humanities, and social sciences are taking Ricker at her word.

“On the first day of exams in May, 2002, 1,200 people used the science library,” Ricker points out. “Compare that number to 440 in 2001 and 450 in 2000.”
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