The Mary Helen Cochran Library is the cornerstone of the College’s academic community. In 2012, a project was undertaken to restore the historic 1929 building designed by the architectural firm of Ralph Adams Cram, and to add 16,000 square feet of study, classroom and collaborative spaces. The project was completed in fall 2014. This state-of-the-art facility and its resources provide students with one of the finest private college libraries in Virginia. The collections include more than 270,000 volumes; subscriptions to more than 1,000 current periodical titles; and 8,000 audio-visual materials. Older journals, microform resources and government resources are housed in the Wick Closed Stack facility. The library also provides the College community with access to more than 300 online academic databases, e-book and video collections through the library website.
All items are housed in open stacks and arranged for easy student access. The library is open 106 hours each week, 24 hours a day during exams. Reference librarians are available to help students organize their research efforts and to assist them with information needs. Bibliographic instruction to individuals and classes at scheduled times and by appointment help students gain the skills necessary to use effectively the vast information resources available.
The library faculty also offers a series of non-credit courses in library instruction. The Basic Library Skills course is required of all incoming students. Library lab sessions are offered in conjunction with courses for the writing requirement. Those students exempting from the requirement must take the course in stand-alone sessions.
The Mary Helen Cochran Library houses rare books and the College archives. The rare book collection includes more than 5,000 volumes and thousands of manuscripts to support the curriculum. Of special note are the Virginia Woolf Collection, the W.H. Auden Collection, the George Meredith Collection and the Evelyn Day Mullen T.E. Lawrence Collection.
The Sweet Briar College library is a leader in the use of advanced technology to improve the accessibility of information for students and faculty. A shared automated catalog, LION (Lynchburg Information Online Network), established in cooperation with Randolph College, allows students to search and borrow items from their combined library holdings. Borrowed items are delivered to Sweet Briar.
The Online Computer Library Center (OCLC) system provides access to millions of titles in libraries throughout the United States, Canada, Mexico, Great Britain and Europe. Online search services provide access to thousands of databases, indices and abstracts, and offer full texts of information in hundreds of disciplines.
The John B. and Irene Vongehr Vincent ‘40 collection features more than 4,000 books and ephemera in English on Chinese culture and history.
The library also maintains extensive collections of audio and videotape programs, sound recordings, DVDs and multi-media software.