James Pape doesn’t think of Simpson Library as being the big brick building with all the books across from the Hurley Convergence Center.
“The library is the entire campus,” said Pape, Simpson’s access services and outreach librarian. “Students are still using the library when they’re reading books or other materials in their residence halls or apartments, or even when they’re using our databases to conduct research.”
A storehouse of sources, it has served since 1989 as the University’s knowledge center, supporting teaching, learning, research and service happenings on and off campus. In celebration of its 30th anniversary, Simpson Library will hold a reception today, Oct. 2, from 3 to 5 p.m., for the campus community.
“On the outside, it may look much as it did when it opened 30 years ago, but inside we are evolving into a 21st-century library,” said University Librarian Rosemary Arneson, who pointed to online journals, a greater collection of electronic books than those in print and modern entities like the ThinkLab and Digital Archiving Lab. “At our heart, however, we continue to be committed to providing excellent service to the UMW community.”
Simpson Library shared recent statistics, including data from the spring 2018 student survey and the fall 2018 library use survey:
- 500,000. That’s the number of volumes in the social sciences, humanities and sciences; there are 100,000 electronic books; millions of articles from magazines, newspapers and scholarly journals; maps; and federal and Virginia government documents – not to mention recent popular novels, nonfiction works and national bestsellers.
- 150,000. That’s the number of visits students made to Simpson during the 2018-19 academic year.
- 94 percent. That’s how many Mary Washington students visit the library several times per academic year; 77 percent visit at least once a month.
- One to three hours. That’s the average amount of time students spend during each visit to the library.
Surveys also revealed that a majority of students visit the library to study or work on assignments on their own. Popular study spots include first-floor computer workstations, second- and third-floor study rooms, and third-floor treehouses and carrels.
“The library is a great place to get work done because it’s so quiet and there are so many individual work stations,” said a student who contributed to one of last year’s surveys. Many said the library is their favorite place to study on campus. Others noted its peaceful, warm and welcoming atmosphere and pleasant staff. Said one: “Everyone at Simpson Library is helpful and friendly.”