Libraries & Collections

Oberlin students have access to superior library resources in four distinct facilities. The recipient of a prestigious award for excellence in academic libraries, the Oberlin College Library has one of the largest and finest undergraduate collections in the nation.

students study in main library commons area.
The Academic Commons area of the Terrell Main Library is a busy study area especially during finals week.
Photo credit: Tanya Rosen-Jones ’97

The Mary Church Terrell Main Library, housed in Seeley G. Mudd Center, remains busy with both academic and social activities. The structure and amenities of its Academic Commons encourages community and collaboration.

In addition, three specialized libraries are devoted to art, music, and science. All four libraries offer strong collections, extensive electronic access to databases and journals, and excellent reference staff. 

Total holdings for the library system exceed 2.4 million items. In addition, the OhioLINK library and information consortium provides access to more than 48 million volumes from 89 institutions in Ohio.

The primary location for materials in the humanities and social sciences is the Mary Church Terrell Main Library. Part of the Seeley G. Mudd Center, the Terrell Main Library is named in honor of the 1884 alumna, civil rights activist, journalist, and founding member of the NAACP.

The Terrell library also houses interdisciplinary and general interest works, archives and special collections, and the mathematics and computer science collections. Administrative offices and most library technical services are located here.

Discover the Terrell Main Library

The Academic Commons on the main floor of Seeley G. Mudd Center is a hub for sharing research and information. It’s also the place to get computer support, and access technology, reference, and learning assistance. Its major features include 29 workstations (for individual or group study), printers, scanners, an electronic classroom, and multimedia stations with video editing.

Adding to its appeal as a gathering spot is Azariah’s Cafe, which sells coffees, pastries, and healthy snacks.

Explore Academic Commmons

A visual feast for those who love art and the creative process, the library has more than 110,000 books, exhibition catalogs, and bound periodicals, as well as about 250 journals. The collection includes architecture, painting, sculpture, prints and drawings, new media, photography, and the decorative arts. Materials on anthropology, archeology, and landscape architecture are also available here.

In-depth materialis are available on Western European, Chinese, Japanese, and American art.

The library is on the top floor of the Allen Memorial Art Museum and named for Clarence Ward, museum director and art department chair from 1917 to 1949.

Discover the art library

The music library is among the oldest and largest in any academic setting, with more than 345,000 items. Collections include sound recordings, musical scores, books, and periodical titles. These cover Western art music from all historical periods, complete editions of the works of major composers, as well as growing collections in the areas of women musicians and American, ethnic, contemporary, jazz, folk, and popular music.

The conservatory library’s Special Collections feature a vast musical spectrum including rare jazz sound recordings and American music, plus photographs, instruments, and more.

Students can access recordings in different media formats at any one of 43 listening carrels.

Browse the conservatory library

Our spacious science library, housed in the Science Center, is devoted to astronomy, biochemistry, biology, chemistry, geology, neuroscience, and physics, to support teaching and learning in those majors. Also well represented are related subjects in agriculture, botany, medicine, technology, science education, zoology, and history of science.

The library has a printer, scanner, 15 iMacs, group study rooms, and 31 study carrels. The service desk combines circulation, reserve, and a help desk for reference and research assistance in one location.

Students and faculty have access to more than 110,000 volumes, 60 periodical titles in print, and thousands of online scientific journals.

Explore the science library

Almost everything you want to know about Oberlin, you can find in College Archives. Department-based and student research projects often involve use of College Archives.

Its rich collection of original historical materials offers insight and documentation of Oberlin’s involvement in many of the significant social, religious, civil rights, and political movements of our time. Oberlin has been associated with such movements as antislavery, African Americans in higher education, coeducation, missions, women’s suffrage, temperance, diversity, and ecology and the environment.

Visit the archives in person on the fourth floor of the main library, or peruse its collections, holdings and finding guides online.

View College Archives

Support for the Libraries

The Friends of the Oberlin College Libraries provide significant support for special acquisitions and programs that help the library fulfill its fundamental role in the academic life of the college.