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Neilson Library

Neilson Library is open for item pickup & study to students, faculty, and staff enrolled in the campus COVID-19 screening program. Neilson is currently closed to the public.
COVID-19 Library Services
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Welcome to the new Neilson! As the intellectual heart of the campus, the library celebrates learning and discovery. Renowned architectural designer Maya Lin’s vision has reimagined the building as a place of beauty, harmony, connection and community. Illuminating down through five stories, the atrium’s oculus is a beacon of light, while glass windows throughout bring the natural landscape outside in. Take a virtual tour and enjoy innovative spaces and awe-inspiring views. See for yourself why Maya Lin describes Neilson as “calmly natural,” and why President McCartney says the library “invites us to explore the world in all its wonder.”

Building Access

Download a floor-by-floor guide to the Neilson Library.

Building access is limited to students, faculty and staff who are in the campus COVID-19 screening program. Masks are welcme but not required. Lanyards must be worn and displayed at all times, and entry will be controlled by card access via the Seelye lawn entrance. Building capacity is no longer limited. Campus community members may check the building capacity before visiting.

Students, faculty, emeriti, and staff not in the COVID-19 screening program will be able to continue to request items from the Smith Libraries, Five Colleges and Interlibrary Loan (ILL). Requested items will be mailed to their address. Please see “Requesting Items” and “Returning Items” on our COVID-19 webpage for full details. 

Neilson Library is not open to the public. Currently, only students, staff and faculty in the college's COVID-19 testing program may access the building during Green Mode. While the building is not yet open to the public, we look forward to welcoming visitors in the future. The College will make a determination about when to re-open library buildings to the public, and that decision will be communicated widely. We encourage those interested to follow us on social media for updates. For more information about how Smith is working to keep the campus and surrounding communities safe, please see the Culture of Care website.


Current Services and Collections


During Green Mode, students and employees in the COVID-19 screening program may:

  • Access study areas
  • Browse books and journals
  • Pick up requested items
  • Use self checkout stations
  • Return library items
  • Use print/copy/scan stations

All online services will continue to be available. Please see Library Services During COVID-19.

Collection Locations

General Collections Location
LC Call Numbers A – PT, Burack (new fiction / non fiction) collection, language readers collection, and reference collection Ground floor
LC Call Numbers PT – Q, journals and magazines 1st floor
LC Call Numbers Q – TX, oversized books 2nd floor
LC Call Numbers TX – ZA, bound journals 3rd floor

For an overview of the letters and corresponding subject areas of the Library of Congress Classification system, see the Library of Congress Classification Outline.

If you can’t retrieve the item you are looking for please place a request in the online library catalog.

Books shelved in Neilson that were formerly classified under the Dewey Decimal System have been reclassified under the Library of Congress system for ease of use.

Additional library materials are housed in the Five College Annex. These materials can be requested through the catalog.

Special Collections

Special Collections materials and staff will move into Neilson Library starting in June 2021 and will be closed over the summer.  Please visit the Renovation Transition page for current information about Special Collections.

Neilson Spaces & Technology


  • Courtyard
  • Cafe
  • Personal Lockers
  • Reflection Room
  • Caverno Room
  • Phone Rooms
  • Exhibit spaces


Each floor in the Neilson Library has spaces available for physically distanced study.

Before visiting, please check the occupancy levels to see if the building is at capacity.

Once inside the building, please follow posted signage to ensure proper space capacity and social distancing.