The Seeley G. Mudd Library has a section for popular magazines and newspapers, located on the first floor. Photo by Hannah Burgess.
Navigating the rows upon rows of books which crowd the third and fourth floor stacks can be overwhelming. With so much to choose from, where can one begin? Whether starting a research project or finding something fun to take a break with, the library’s literary resources are seemingly boundless. However, whether searching for specific titles or simply hoping to browse for new materials, the stacks are easier to navigate than one might first suspect. Library Administrative Assistant Holly Tuyls has plenty of information about where students can find specific reading resources around the library.
Starting on the first floor, Tuyls showcases the book display and periodicals shelves in front of the circulation desk. Tuyls explained, “We change it up at least once a month, sometimes more, and try to keep it relevant to what’s going on. This month is Black History Month, sometimes if something’s going on politically we’ll change it real quick.”
Shelves of periodicals and newspapers are housed beneath the rotating book display. With cushioned chairs clustered around the display area, Tuyls said that the librarians “try to keep browsable, more popular [materials] right here by the comfy chairs so that folks can just grab, kick back and relax.”
The newspapers are included with the popular materials as well. Tuyls brought up the point that making distinctions between what is “popular” and “academic” is subjective and has a lot of overlap. In regards to newspapers, Tuyls said “I think this could kind of be included as popular too […] current events are really important but also, obviously, very academic.”
Newest arrivals at the library can also be spotted right as one walks in on the first floor. A bookshelf across from the circulation desk boasts a variety of new titles. Tuyls described this shelf as “a fun, accessible place to get an overview of our main collection.” Tuyls added, “Browsing the shelf is really easy and super fun. You can see all of the new materials we’ve acquired in the last few weeks”
There are two areas for periodicals. While popular magazines have an easily-accessed base on the first floor with the book display and newspapers, an entire floor on the A Level is devoted to shelves of periodicals, with current magazines located on metal shelves and older, bound issues on wooden shelves. The A Level has “the same kind of setup where we’ve got some comfy chairs where people can just browse, but people actually do end up using the journals for papers and stuff too,” Tuyls said.
Continuing upwards, the third and fourth floors contain the bulk of the Seeley G. Mudd Library’s book collection. While much of the materials are of an academic nature spanning a wide variety of subjects, the third floor also contains literature which, though useful in an academic context, can also be accessed for pleasure reading. From classic literature to contemporary and young adult, the collection sprawls along the back wall of the third floor with works ranging from classics by Hemmingway or Morrison to books such as Harry Potter and even children’s picture books. Poetry and plays are interspersed as well as literature from countries outside of the U.S., giving browsers a wide variety of materials to discover.
While there are ample resources to be explored and discovered throughout the stacks on these floors, it can be hard to know where to begin or how to narrow in on a specific title, unless one is familiar with the Library of Congress Classification (LCC) system which the Seeley G. Mudd Library employs. Tuyls was able to explain how the system works when one is looking up the call number for a specific book in the catalogue. “It’s a little different; it starts with a letter and then moves into a number,” Tuyls said, and emphasized that each floor has a map to help orient one in search of specific genres of book.
Each letter in a book’s call number corresponds to the section letter found on the map which directs one to the floor and section which will contain the specific genre of book. For instance, the previously mentioned literature section’s books can be found under “P” on the map specifically denoting Language and Literature. However, while looking at the maps can help one narrow down where to go to specifically seek out a title, one can also simply find a section which sounds appealing and explore the possibilities. A unique feature to the Seeley G. Mudd Library’s stacks are their accessibility. As Tuyls explained, “[in] some universities this is all closed, and you find what you want in the catalogue and then you say ‘I want this book’ and somebody goes and gets it for you.”
At the Seeley G. Mudd Library, students, faculty and staff can enjoy the process of stumbling upon new materials and discovering other titles related to the specific works being searched for by experiencing the stacks themselves.