Thousands of students walk in and out the doors of Lauinger Library every day, but few know the inner workings that allow students to search a book or collection, print a document or conduct research.
Over the past few years, the Joseph Mark Lauinger Memorial Library has expanded its collection and services to attend to the needs of students and faculty in an increasingly digitized community.
Lauinger Library is comprised of the main general book collection, the Booth Family Center for Special Collections, the Woodstock Library, the Gelardin Media Center, the Writing Center and Midnight MUG, a coffee shop run by Students of Georgetown, Inc.
It takes a staff of 105 people to manage the library and the 30,000 new books that arrive each year. The library also employs 100 to 125 additional student workers annually.
University Librarian Artemis Kirk oversees the library’s operations. This year, the university hired Ryan Johnson as its head of collections, research and instruction.
Having served as the head of information services at the University of Mississippi for the past 10 years, Johnson said his goal is to keep Lauinger up-to-date with changes in the education world, including open access and digitalization.
“I’m going to work with this department to … provide the best well-rounded collections [and] set of collection services for the students and faculty,” Johnson said.
Kirk said that the library draws on sources across a diverse range of subject matters and issue areas.
“We first and foremost support all of the disciplines that are taught at Georgetown and all of the research aspects of Georgetown’s major work,” Kirk said. “We’re not just buying course materials nor materials for particular disciplines. We are taking all of this into account.”
According to its staff, one of the biggest challenges facing Lauinger Library is its increasingly limited space. Over the past few years, the library has shifted its focus to procuring e-books.
In 2003, fewer than 500 of the library’s 1.7 million volumes were e-books. Today, the Main Campus libraries house around 1.26 million e-books, more than 1.3 million microforms and constantly growing collections of audiovisual materials, photographs, government documents and electronic databases.
The library also provides access to online databases, in addition to a 3D printer in Gelardin, which was installed last year.
Aside from the procurement of new materials, the university also expanded its services to students and faculty over the past years.
According to Johnson, librarians work closely with professors to ensure that students have access to publications that will complement their curriculum.
“We always … find the materials that meet the teaching, learning and research needs of the community we’re working with,” Johnson said. “We track what books are used and how they’re used so we can get a sense for how the students or the faculty are making use of the collection, so we can then tweak it to better meet some of their needs.”
Students and faculty can request books from the School in Foreign Service in Qatar library to be delivered to the Main Campus.
In 2014, librarians answered more than 19,000 reference questions posed by students. More than 1 million website visitors accessed almost 6 million library web pages.
Much of the digital information is leased from aggregators or accessed through the Washington Research Library Consortium. The consortium is a nonprofit organization that includes eight other D.C. universities, including American University, the Catholic University of America, the George Washington University and Howard University.
This year, Lauinger Library has a combined operating budget of $6.5 million. Each year, it receives a base amount from the university for its regular collections. Special collections are sustained through special funds, endowments and donations.
Library archives have continued to grow in the field of special collections in recent years. In March, the Booth Family Center for Special Collections opened after the library received a $3 million grant from Georgetown parents Suzanne Deal Booth and David G. Booth and an additional $2 million in various private donations.
The center adds onto the library’s extensive archive collection. The archive collection, which was founded in 1816, is one of the oldest university archives in the country. According to Kirk, every nonconventional, unique and rare object, including manuscripts, rare books and other art, is held in these archives.
“These [artifacts] are the things that kind of distinguish one university research library from another,” Kirk said. “Not just size, but what you’ve got that’s really quite unique and relevant to the mission of your institution. That’s where we focus.”
Student Library Assistant Brynlee Norton (COL ’19) said her favorite part of the job is organizing special collections and observing pictures of exclusive events that involvr presidents, prime ministers and military leaders.
“My first day I got to go into the rare books closet and on that day I got to see a complete set of first- edition Charles Dickens novels as well as a really giant book from the 13th century that monks probably inscribed,” Norton said. “So that was really cool to see.”
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