The Mary Helen Cochran Library is the cornerstone of the College’s academic community. A project 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 was completed in 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 250,000 physical volumes; subscriptions to more than 30,000 physical and digital periodical titles; and 80,000 audio-visual materials, both physical and digital. 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 200 online academic databases, e-book and video collections through the library website.
Most items are housed in open stacks and arranged for easy student access. The library is open 85 hours each week. Research consultations are available to help students organize their research efforts and to assist with information needs. Information literacy and bibliographic instruction sessions are available 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 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 utilizes advanced technology to improve the accessibility of information for students and faculty. The library’s OneSearch tool, powered by WorldCat, allows students to search the physical and digital collections simultaneously; as well as information resources beyond the library collections. 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.
The Sweet Briar College library is a participant in the Virtual Library of Virginia’s Cooperative Borrowing Program, which gives SBC students borrowing privileges at dozens of Virginia colleges and universities. Additionally, the library’s interlibrary loan program allows SBC library users to borrow items from libraries nationwide.