Burling Library on a sunny day

About Us

Welcome to the Grinnell College Libraries, winner of the 2011 Excellence in Academic Libraries Award from the Association of College and Research Libraries and the American Library Association.

The 11 faculty librarians and 19 staff of the Grinnell College Libraries — Burling Library, the Kistle Science Library, and the Curriculum Library — are dedicated to helping Grinnell students, faculty, and staff succeed in learning, teaching, and research. Our services emphasize working closely with students to develop fluency in the use and evaluation of information sources as they conduct research and other intellectual investigations, through individualized research appointments, classroom instruction, and drop-in research assistance. Each academic department and concentration has a professional librarian assigned as its liaison, and we work closely with our campus colleagues to integrate writing, reading, data analysis, academic advising, and other services. The Libraries’ book, journal, data, and media collections — in analog and digital formats — are wide-ranging and intellectually challenging, representing multiple viewpoints, languages, and cultures, and we are part of a worldwide network of libraries that can bring you information from all parts of the globe. We offer a variety of spaces for quiet and collaborative study, practicing presentations, and relaxing, and we sponsor readings, lectures, and musical performances throughout the year. We’re also part of the Grinnell town community; residents are welcome to borrow from our collection, use our facilities, and enjoy our events.

As the world of information grows more complex — available in more formats, from more sources, with confusing questions about copyright and reliability — libraries are more central to learning than ever before. We look forward to working with you!

Mission Statement

The Grinnell College Libraries are a vital intellectual center for our campus, developing the rich collections that support our community’s scholarly endeavors, teaching students how to navigate a rapidly changing information landscape, and facilitating participation in global knowledge communities.  We are deeply committed to fostering the creation of new knowledge at Grinnell, preserving those works of scholarship, and making them openly accessible.

Value Statement

We accomplish this mission through providing exceptional library research experiences, actively contributing to our diverse academic community, and stewarding our resources to ensure a sustainable future for the scholarly enterprise. As scholars and information professionals, we draw on research to inform our work and contribute our own knowledge back to the community. Central to our ability to do these things is hiring, developing, and retaining highly-skilled and creative staff and faculty. We also value the vital contributions of the Libraries’ student staff and recognize the importance of providing active mentoring to help them succeed both in their current jobs and in their post-graduate careers.

Strategic Plan

Teaching Meaningful Research Practices

Ensure that all students are fluent in discovering, understanding, and participating in scholarly conversations in their chosen discipline so that they can successfully have a significant research experience.

  • Assess the changing ways that students with a diversity of backgrounds and interests find and share information and conduct academic research, and align librarians’ teaching with students’ and faculty's current practices.
  • As Grinnell prioritizes additional research opportunities for students, increase opportunities for one-on-one and small group contact between students and librarians.
  • Collaborate with campus offices such as the Writing Lab, Academic Advising, and pre-orientation programs, to provide integrated research-related services for students.

Providing Materials for Teaching and Learning

Expand our direct, immediate access to databases, journals, and scholarly ebooks.

  • Pursue collaborative purchasing relationships with other institutions on the local, regional, and national level. Negotiating purchases as part of a large group gives us more leverage with publishers and other vendors, allowing us to increase Grinnell's access to primary sources and secondary literature while containing costs.
  • Take a leadership role in local and regional consortia such as the Iowa Academic Library Alliance [1], the Central Iowa Collaborative Collections Initiative (CI-CCI), and the Midwest College Group [2].
  • Emphasize an on-demand approach to purchasing and provide resources in accessible formats that work best for our community. By acquiring materials with an eye toward usage and usability, the Libraries can make the most of available funds.

Spearhead initiatives to make textbooks and other learning materials available to students free of charge.

  • Assist Grinnell faculty who are interested in creating free online textbooks and similar open educational resources, and collaborate with ITS to provide hosting for those products.
  • Actively help advance collaborative projects such as Lever Press that make high-quality scholarly monographs—the type of books commonly assigned in lieu of a traditional "textbook" in the humanities and social sciences—freely available to anyone with an Internet connection.
  • Digitize Grinnell's unique collections, particularly those held in Special Collections and Archives, and make them freely available online, allowing them to be used as primary source materials by students at colleges that may not be able to afford commercial primary source databases.

Library as a Learning Space

Perform a comprehensive space assessment.

  • Determine how students and faculty are currently using library facilities.
  • Analyze how students and faculty see the libraries contributing to their teaching, learning, and research goals.
  • Predict what technology needs will be most critical going forward.
  • Use this information to maximize the usefulness of Burling Library during its remaining lifespan and to begin planning for a new library building in Phase 2 of the campus plan.

1 The Iowa Academic Library Alliance (Alliance) is a consortium of 50 academic libraries (community colleges, private and public colleges, and universities) that work together on mutually advantageous projects including group purchasing of information resources and enhanced resource sharing among libraries.

2 The Midwest College Group is a consortium of eight academic libraries located in Minnesota, Iowa, and Indiana that purchases group access to journal content from the publisher Springer.

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