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New Video of Students' First Impressions of Neilson Library

Students' reactions

Photo by Jeff Baker.

In this video, watch Smith students discuss their favorite spaces in the recently reopened Neilson Library. This video was made by Smith student, Hailie Dang, class of '21.

In addition to the video, the Libraries Development Officer Mary Irwin to reached out to faculty, students and library staff to get their first impressions of Neilson Library. Their replies are collected below.

"I love it! I think it's an exhilarating space to be in--spaces, really--and I've already picked out some spots in which I want to work (aside from the roof deck where I expect to spend some summer mornings.) I like the light, and the wood, and the openness. The great thing about it is that there are so many different kinds of spaces and seating, essentially something for everybody." - Professor of English Michael Gorra

"It's great to be able to work in Neilson, and my favorite part is seeing other students using and enjoying it. While it functions differently now than it will in normal times, it's an honor to get to say that I was one of the first people who got to work in the new Neilson.” Library Assistant Noelle Goerlich ‘22.

“The amount of sunlight impresses me. Even on the ground floor, the rooms are bathed in sunlight. It's challenging to still have some areas under construction and inaccessible, but we're making do.” Access Services Evening Supervisor Tierra Wilkins Valdés

"When I first walked in, I was so moved. I didn't fully realize, perhaps, how much I/we have missed Neilson. And I'm sure my emotions were compounded by COVID-19 -- and the slow reopening we're moving toward. I'm hardly an expert on architecture, but it's clear immediately that it's aesthetically wondrous. I loved the spaces and can't wait to use it more fully next fall." Mary Huggins Gamble Professor of Government Greg White

“Working in Neilson Library is like working inside a sculpture or other work of art. Every corner you turn is another way to look at or through the building. The daylight in our offices is amazing, and staring out at the new surrounding landscape, like the amphitheater, brings enjoyment to my day.” Head of Public Services Abby Baines

"I think the new Neilson is even more gorgeous in person than in the press photos. I teared up when I saw it, especially the 4th floor with the views of the town and the mountains. As a student at Smith in the mid-1990s, I was jealous of Mount Holyoke students because their library was so lovely. Of course, the Smith collection was always excellent. What I look forward to the most is access to Special Collections. I have never seen such a lovely setting for an archive. I am so grateful that our students have this space after 4 years. The chance to browse journals and books in a gorgeous setting like that will be really wonderful."  Professor of History Marnie Anderson ‘97

“It's great to hear from students how much they've been waiting for the new library, how beautiful it is, and how it's great to have it as a place to study. It's also nice to see students browsing books on the shelves again. We are sorry to have to turn people away at the door who want to see the space but are not in the campus COVID-19 screening program. We need to be safe and we can't wait to share the space with everyone once the pandemic is under better control.” Access Services Manager Dominique Tremblay

"After a year focussed on limits and prohibitions, it was so refreshing to walk through Neilson and think about possibilities and opportunities. I look forward to using some of the new spaces to meet with students, rather than meeting in my office. I very much look forward to the resumption of activities in the Neilson Browsing Room. I love the sense of continuity - keeping the best of the past in combination with exciting new possibilities." Professor of Economics Roisin O’Sullivan

“It's so nice to work in a space with such lovely warm natural light and to be reunited with students and their unbridled enthusiasm even in a pandemic!” Circulation Associate C. M. Flynn

To read additional student reactions to the new library, see Connection and Inspiration: Students React to the New Neilson in the Grécourt Gate.

Watch the video below to see gorgeous views of the new Neilson library.