The George T. and Gladys H. Abell Library Center has played and continues to play an essential role in a student’s experience at Austin College since its opening in 1986. Four librarians, an archivist, and six support staff provide guidance in the use of library resources.
Upon entering the library, one immediately sees “From the Center,” a metal and wood sculpture by internationally renowned artist James Surls. It is here that the Abell Library Commons begins. The Commons is not just one place on the library’s first floor, but rather a series of spaces designed for collaboration or for contemplation. There are tables organized around a large screen monitor with connectors for up to four computers permitting study groups or class teams to collaborate; a large screen presentation area with semi-circular seating; and several lounges arranged for single and group seating. Also in the library is a Texas courtroom replica used by the college’s Advocacy Team to prepare for competitions and available for other programs and the Lemuel Scarbrough Center for Writing to provide support for students and faculty with writing assistance and curricular support. A popular area late at night is the Extended Study Room, with its computers and printers, and its availability to students by card access after the library closes. Wi-Fi can be found throughout the building.
The library’s second floor is designated a “Quiet Area” where students can expect noise to be kept to a minimum. There are reading and study areas, group study rooms with audiovisual equipment, individual carrels, a hands-on computer classroom, a group instruction classroom, and the Archives and Special Collections Suite.
Reference services are available during most hours the library is open. In addition, questions can be submitted by email or via the Ask-a-Librarian button on the library’s website. An active instruction program offers guidance in the efficient and effective use of available resources and services for all students.
The library’s resources include a book and bound periodical collection of more than 225,000 volumes, a media collection of more than 6,000 items, and subscriptions to several thousand print and electronic periodicals. Classroom faculty members and librarians carefully select these materials to support the academic programs and intellectual interests of the college community. The library’s website provides access to the library’s catalog and to electronic resources, free and subscribed, available to all students, staff, and faculty on campus and via authentication off campus.
The library’s holdings are supplemented by cooperative arrangements with other institutions and organizations, such as TexShare, a statewide initiative of the Texas State Library and Archives Commission. Abell Library also participates in the consortium of the Texas Council of Academic Libraries (TCAL) and the Oberlin Group, a national organization of liberal arts college libraries. Participation in these groups expands the range of services with borrowing privileges at other institutions, including interlibrary loan, and access to many scholarly databases that students and faculty find important.