The Mudd and Me: Rooms and Resources

This column is intended to inform students and other members of the Lawrence community about the resources and events that are offered at the Seeley G. Mudd Library. This is a source for little-known library facts, staff spotlights and investigations into the archives of Lawrence and Milwaukee-Downer College.


Scrambling to print a paper in the library minutes before class is not an unfamiliar sensation for most students. While many people may associate the library with panic-stricken dashes between classes or long, arduous homework sessions late into the night, there are many more layers to the library than may meet the eye. The four floors of the Seeley G. Mudd Library are populated by rooms with a wide variety of purposes, employees with fascinating behind-the-scene jobs and little-known resources for students.

Circulation Services Supervisor and Equipment Reservations Cynthia Patterson is familiar with the many ways in which the Mudd can provide for students. Personally in charge of keeping the circulation desk staffed and running at all hours of operation, Patterson also “[makes] sure that people are having a satisfactory experience, that is, they’re finding the materials they need and that things aren’t out of order.” Patterson therefore has extensive knowledge of what the library has to offer to Lawrence students.

The Mudd Library houses a wide variety of rooms, which can be used for many purposes. The Viewing Rooms, for example, can hold several people, not only for classwork but for watching films for fun.

“[The viewing rooms are always there] if you wanted to bring a group in and watch a film, for a class or just for entertainment,” Patterson explained. “I think a lot of people don’t realize we have those spaces.”

Other rooms on the second and third floors can contain student groups interested in working on projects together, and individual computer rooms on the third and fourth floors allow students the chance to type papers in a quiet, secluded setting. While these rooms provide students with great work spaces, the fourth floor Kruse Room and Collection is perfect for taking a break from these studies. Patterson explained that the Kruse Room is “designed to be an area to house materials on diversity and social justice, plus it’s also supposed to be an inspiring room to go up and sit in.”

Aside from these rooms, the library also houses some special collections. The Lincoln Reading Room is “a very fine collection of Civil War related materials” both old and new, thanks to the generous donation of two alums, as well as other contributing donors. Along with the Lincoln Reading Room, the Milwaukee-Downer Room houses a collection of more rare and antique books, as well as a number of cozy couches to lounge in for reading leisure.

A handful of rooms provide resources and events for students as well. The Makerspace and Media Workroom is home to a 3D printer, which one can gain card access to after a brief training, provides many opportunities for creativity as well as work. “All of it [doesn’t have to be] related to a certain class, sometimes people are doing projects that are outside of the classroom in there,” said Patterson.

Another practical department which is housed in the library is the Technology Services, not to be confused with Technical Services. Technology Services provide students with help connecting computers to the internet, recovering lost passwords and a variety of other issues, while Technical Services provides a backstage support system for the library by preparing books and periodicals for circulation.

The Archives, run by University Archivist Erin Dix, are also a key resource room for students. “You can find scrapbooks, and first-hand information. Sometimes people in classes use the archives because they have to have information that’s first hand and so [the Archives are] very popular for that,” Patterson said, explaining also that the Archives contain not just the history of the library but also resources on the history of Lawrence University as well as Milwaukee-Downer College.

Along with the rooms available for student use, there are several resources which can be taken advantage of. Not only are there physical locations for books, as well as Periodicals on Level A for both academic and enjoyment journals, but issues can be found online. To help students with research projects, lockers are located on the third and fourth floors “so if you had a bunch of books for a paper and you didn’t want to haul them around but you wanted to keep them safe, we do have a locker, and keys get checked out at circulation desk,” Patterson explained.

Reference librarians are also available many hours of the day to assist in finding materials for projects. Appointments may be made online, or one can walk up to the reference desk. “That’s a service that we all wish students wouldn’t wait to take advantage of,” Patterson emphasized. The library houses up to a million books, though there is a continual cycling of interlibrary loan books as well as net lender books shuffled in and out, not to mention class reserves which students may take advantage of for specific classes and even clubs.

The Mudd also offers more than books and periodicals. While students are familiar with the printers and photocopying machines, which Patterson wryly noted are “a big part of the library” and “very popular,” there are also some audiobooks on CD, a selection of video games and students may even check out equipment such as projectors and filming equipment.

According to Patterson, “Generally about 5,000 people pass through each week.” With so many people making use of the surface-level resources which the library provides, there is a wealth of other ways in which students are able to take advantage of the Seeley G. Mudd Library both to enrich academic experiences as well as to provide entertainment and even self-care.