Bowdoin’s library—the intellectual heart of the College—provides a gateway to the world of information and ideas, helps students succeed academically, and supports teaching and research. In addition to notable print and manuscript collections, historically recognized as among Bowdoin’s hallmarks of excellence, the Library offers a wealth of electronic resources and offers instructional programs in their use.
The Library’s website (library.bowdoin.edu) is the portal to the combined Colby, Bates, and Bowdoin library catalog (CBBcat), rich collections of electronic and print resources, and useful digital research and discovery tools. The Library’s collections, developed over a period of 200 years, exceed one million volumes and include more than 40,000 print and electronic periodical and newspaper subscriptions, 360 online indexes and databases, as well as e-books, audiovisual items, maps, photographs, a growing repository of born-digital content, and over 5,300 linear feet of manuscripts and archival records.
Librarians and faculty partner to encourage the use of scholarly resources throughout the curriculum and to teach students to identify, select, and evaluate information for course work and independent scholarship. All students receive information literacy instruction in their first-year seminars, and librarians provide personalized assistance in using library resources.
Interlibrary loan and document delivery services allow students and faculty to request materials not held at Bowdoin; most journal articles are delivered electronically, and books arrive daily from Colby and Bates colleges, other libraries in New England, and worldwide.
Library Locations and Collections
The handsome Hawthorne-Longfellow Library, the main library building, houses humanities and social sciences materials, the George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives, and a depository of federal and Maine State documents. It features an array of popular student study spaces, ranging from quiet individual carrels to technologically equipped group learning spaces, as well as an electronic classroom for instruction, a multimedia lab, a student gallery, and meeting rooms for public events and student exhibits, presentations, and other activities.
The George J. Mitchell Department of Special Collections & Archives includes rare books and manuscripts of unusual depth for a college library, plus images, recordings, and historical documents of the College, as well as the personal papers of notable alumni, including Senator George J. Mitchell (Class of 1954). These research materials afford an invaluable opportunity for undergraduates to experience conducting original research; using primary resources in Special Collections & Archives is a distinguishing characteristic of a Bowdoin education.
The Government Documents Collection provides the Bowdoin community and the public access to print and digital government information reflecting over two centuries of federal and state history.
The Hatch Science Library offers research and instructional services and a variety of individual and group study facilities in support of its science-related print and digital resources.
The William Pierce Art Library and the Robert Beckwith Music Library, located adjacent to classrooms and offices for those departments, serve as centers for research and study. The Art Library offers a strong collection of art books and exhibition catalogs. The Music Library contains scores, sound recordings, videos, music books, and computer and listening stations.
The Language Media Center in Sills Hall provides multimedia facilities to support learning foreign languages and houses most Library audiovisual materials. The Center offers streamed digital radio, live international television, and foreign language newspapers and magazines from around the world, plus classroom and playback facilities for all international film standards.