1. The Libraries on the Amherst College Campus

The Amherst College Library consists of the main Robert Frost Library, the Keefe Science Library, the Vincent Morgan Music Library, and the Visual Resources Collection. In addition, a portion of the mathematics collection is housed in the Olds Mathematics Library in Seeley Mudd and an affiliated collection, the Amherst Center for Russian Culture, is located on the second floor of Webster Hall. The Frost Library houses the collections in the social sciences, humanities, and fine arts and is a designated Federal Depository Library. Frost is also home to the Archives and Special Collections, the “behind-the-scenes” departments that administer library services.

The library’s collections include more than 1 million volumes and 575,000 other media materials. Notable holdings include the Robert Frost Collection, the Emily Dickinson Collection, and the Papers of Louise Bogan. Most of the Library’s holdings are readily available in the campus libraries, although some older materials, mostly journals, have been moved to off-site storage. The online Four-College Catalog provides access not only to Amherst’s collections, but also to those of Hampshire College, Mount Holyoke College, and Smith College.

To facilitate communication and foster collaboration between the library and the Faculty, each academic department is assigned a library liaison. A liaison serves as a department’s primary contact person in the library for collection development issues, seniors working on theses, and information about library services, making referrals to other librarians and library departments as needed.

Research and Instruction Services

The library emphasizes strong support for faculty members in their research and course development. In addition to providing general reference service at Reference in Robert Frost Library, in Science, or in Music, librarians are available for individual appointments for in-depth assistance or to go over online research and electronic resources from individuals’ own workstations.

Many of the library’s electronic resources may be accessed from home as well as on campus. Follow Information Technology’s directions for connecting from off campus.

Librarians support teaching by providing instruction in using the library and its resources. In addition to offering general research sessions, librarians work with faculty members to design library instruction sessions tailored to the research needs of their courses and assist in integrating library research guides and resources into Blackboard courses. Individual research appointments provide the opportunity for students to meet individually with a reference librarian to discuss resources and research strategies for term paper assignments, research projects, class presentations, and honors theses. Faculty members who wish to discuss the various options for instruction in their courses should contact their library liaison.


Amherst College faculty members have generous borrowing privileges from Amherst College libraries: 365 days for books and scores, three days for journals, seven days for media materials, and twenty-eight days for Music CDs. A valid Amherst College ID is required.

New Materials for the Library

Faculty members are encouraged to participate in collection development by recommending all types of materials for purchase. Each academic department is assigned a library budget allocation, with unencumbered funds reverting in April to the general acquisitions fund, to be spent in the best interest of the library. While the library’s primary responsibility is to support the curriculum and College programs, the library also supports faculty research when possible. Requests may be sent through the library’s online purchase request form , via email or on paper, including clearly marked catalogs and announcements from publishers and dealers. Faculty members should contact their library liaison with questions and ideas about developing the library’s collection.

Supplementary acquisitions funds are available for new faculty members to select extra materials in their areas of scholarly interest and for all faculty members who are developing new courses. For information about those funds, contact the Librarian of the College (x2212 or email: sharrington).

Reserve Services

Physical and electronic reserve services are offered by Frost, Science, Music, and Visual Resources. Reserves are commonly used to provide supplemental readings, to make an item available throughout an entire semester, and to provide a convenient locale for students to use required materials. All types of materials, including books, copies of articles, problem sets, and video and sound recordings, can be placed on reserve.

Submit reserve reading lists as early as possible to allow sufficient time for recalling books that have been charged out and for purchasing or borrowing books and articles not in the collection. For new purchases, use the online form. Enter the course number and set Special Handling to “Rush.” Extra copies of reserve books are charged to a separate reserve book fund.

Interlibrary loan service

Books and scores, journal articles, and other materials not available through the Four- College or University of Massachusetts catalogs can be requested through ILLiad, the College’s interlibrary loan system. First-time users are required to register with the library and set up an ILLiad account. There is no charge for interlibrary loans.

Media Center

The Media Center provides campus-wide classroom media support, as well as language-learning and media production facilities in the center itself. The center, located on Frost Library Level A, houses a large collection of films, videotapes, and DVDs, all listed in the Four-College Library Catalog, as well as a variety of cameras and other video production equipment. The center collections and equipment are available for loan. Use the online form to request media support for your class.

For more information, consult Services for Faculty, drop by one of the libraries, or visit the library’s home page: Faculty members who have questions about the library should send the reference librarians email from the homepage or call them at x2319.

2. Five-College Library Cooperation

The Five-College libraries share resources by making their collections easily accessible to all members of the five cooperating institutions. There is one online library catalog for the four colleges (Amherst, Hampshire, Mount Holyoke, and Smith) and another database for the holdings of the University of Massachusetts Library. A search in one catalog is easily redone in the other. Amherst faculty members may borrow in person from any of the Five-College libraries or may have books from any of those libraries retrieved and delivered through the “Request” feature offered through the online catalogs.