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.
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
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 shelvingwhich nearly triples storage capacity
over regular shelvingcombined 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
Usage figures from the first day of final exams in Maytypically
the busiest day of the year for the libraryindicate 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.