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Renovation Transition

New Neilson Library south wing

Timeline & Services

Special Collections will be unavailable from June through August 2021 during the move into Neilson Library.

  • May 6: Last day to submit a digitization request to specialcollections@smith.edu. This service will be suspended over the summer.
  • May 30: Last day to submit a reference request to specialcollections@smith.edu. This service will be suspended over the summer.
  • May 31 - August 29: Special Collections is closed. Special Collections staff move to Neilson Library to shelve all collections and prepare the Special Collections Reading Room, Classroom, Seminar Room, and Digitization Lab. The move includes all physical materials from the College Archives, Mortimer Rare Book Collections, and Sophia Smith Collection of women’s history. 
  • August 30: Special Collections formally reopens for campus use within Neilson Library, based on campus guidelines available at that time.
  • Early September: Special Collections digitization services reopen.

Frequently Asked Questions

Smith College Special Collections comprises three unique collections: the College Archives, the Mortimer Rare Book Collection, and the Sophia Smith Collection of Women’s History. Special Collections materials span 5,000 years of human history and features extraordinary breadth and depth of collecting scope. We steward one of the best collections of women’s history in the world, with comprehensive coverage of abolition, suffrage, reproductive rights and justice, grassroots organizing, and women of color. Other core strengths include women’s education, Smith College history, artists' books, book history, and literature. Formerly autonomous, these three extraordinary collections were organizationally combined in 2014.

A crucial step toward integration is the renovation of the Neilson Library. The three collections will be co-located in one space, sharing a single Reading Room and centralized services.

While physical collection materials will be unavailable during the move into the Neilson Library, all digital Special Collections materials will continue to be fully available online. See the guide for finding Special Collections materials online. Over 1 million items have been digitized for public use since 2015.

Until June 7, 2021, Special Collections staff approved to be on campus are split between Young Library and West Street. 

On June 7, 2021, all Special Collections materials and staff will move to their permanent homes in the new Neilson Library. Special Collections is expected to reopen on August 30, 2021 according to the campus guidelines available at that time.

Staff will be available to teach virtually and answer research questions until May 30, 2021. All teaching and reference will pause during summer 2021 and the staff and Special Collections materials move into the new Neilson Library.

If you are interested in teaching with special collections materials in the new library in the fall, please contact the appropriate collection steward or specialcollections@smith.edu. The ability to host classes in person and size of the classes will be based on college guidelines and are subject to change.

Yes, please email specialcollections@smith.edu with any questions. Please note that May 30, 2021 will be the last day to submit a reference request before the service is paused over the summer. This service will reopen in late August of 2021.

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