Bryn Mawr

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Libraries and Educational Resources


The Mariam Coffin Canaday Library is the center of Bryn Mawr’s library system. Opened in 1970, it houses the focus of the College’s collection in the humanities and the social sciences. The award-winning Rhys Carpenter Library, opened in 1997, is located in the M. Carey Thomas Library building and houses the collections in Archaeology, History of Art, and Growth and Structure of Cities. The Lois and Reginald Collier Science Library was dedicated in 1993 and brings together the collections for Mathematics and the sciences. The library collections of Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges, which complement and augment those of Bryn Mawr, are readily accessible to students.

Tripod, the online public access catalog, was installed in 1991 and provides online information about all the materials in the Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore College collections. Bryn Mawr students have borrowing privileges at Haverford and Swarthmore and have the option of requesting that material be transferred from either of the other two campuses for pickup or use at Bryn Mawr. A Web version of the Tripod catalog is available, providing online information on one million-plus titles in the tri-college collection. Through the Library’s home page, students may connect to Tripod as well as a growing number of research databases and other useful information about library services and resources on the Web.

Bryn Mawr libraries operate on an open-stack system, allowing students access to a campus collection composed of more than one million volumes, including books, documents, microforms and a growing multimedia collection of DVDs, videos and CD-ROMs. A series of information sheets, pamphlets and point-of-use guides are available for ready reference, and librarians are available to assist students in accessing extensive research materials in both traditional and electronic formats.

Bryn Mawr has an extraordinarily rich collection of rare books and manuscripts to support the research interests of students. The Goodhart/Gordan Collection of late Medieval and Renaissance texts includes one of the country’s largest groups of books printed in the 15th century, as well as manuscript volumes and 16th-century printed books. Other strengths of the 45,000-volume book collection include accounts of European encounters with Asia, Africa and Latin America from the 16th to the 20th centuries; histories of London and Paris; and books by and about women from the 17th century to the present. Complementary to the rare books are collections of original letters, diaries and other unpublished documents. Bryn Mawr has important literary collections from the late 19th and 20th centuries, including papers of Christina Rossetti, Marianne Moore and the New Yorker editor Katherine Sergeant White. Other strengths are papers relating to the women’s rights movement and the experiences of women, primarily Bryn Mawr graduates, working overseas in the late 19th and early 20th centuries. The College Archives contains the historical records of Bryn Mawr, including letters of students and faculty members, and an extensive photographic collection that documents the campus and student life.

Bryn Mawr is a member of the Pennsylvania Area Library Network/Union Library Catalog of Pennsylvania (PALINET/ULC), whose 590 members include the libraries of the University of Pennsylvania, Temple University, Villanova University, the American Philosophical Society, the Library Company of Philadelphia, the Historical Society of Pennsylvania, the Academy of Natural Sciences, the Free Library of Philadelphia, the College of Physicians of Philadelphia and the Rosenbach Museum. Through PALINET, Bryn Mawr participates in the OCLC database of more than 36 million titles cataloged by libraries throughout the world. Bryn Mawr also belongs to the Pennsylvania Academic Library Consortium, Inc. (PALCI), a statewide consortium of college and university libraries. Materials not owned by Bryn Mawr, Haverford or Swarthmore are available without charge through interlibrary loan.

Additional information about Bryn Mawr’s libraries and their services may be accessed on the Web through the library home page at


Teaching and research in the sciences and mathematics take place in laboratories and classrooms at four locations on campus. Work in biology, chemistry, geology, mathematics and physics is carried out in the Marion Edwards Park Science Center, which also houses the Lois and Reginald Collier Science Library. Work in computer science is conducted in Park Science Center and the computing center in Eugenia Chase Guild Hall; work in psychology is conducted in Bettws-y-Coed.

In the sciences, laboratory work is emphasized at all levels of the curriculum. The science departments have excellent facilities for laboratory teaching; in addition, they are particularly well equipped for research because they serve the educational needs of students working toward M.A. and Ph.D. degrees as well as students working toward the A.B. degree. As a consequence, advanced undergraduates are provided with opportunities to carry out research with sophisticated modern equipment, and they are able to do so with the intellectual companionship of graduate students as well as faculty members.

Among the major laboratory instruments available at the College are a transmission electron microscope, a confocal microscope, light microscopes equipped for fluorescent and Nomarski optics, centrifuges and thermal cyclers, a 300-MHz nuclear magnetic resonance (NMR) spectrometer, additional pulsed NMR equipment for studies of solids, a mass spectrometer, X-ray diffractometer, a wide variety of lasers, several mobile robots, a Leitz total station for surveying, field and laboratory equipment for environmental geochemical research, including a clean bench, heating and freezing stages for microscopes, a cathode luminescence stage and instruments for various kinds of spectroscopy, including infrared, Raman, visible, ultraviolet, fluorescence, atomic absorption and DC plasma atomic emission. In addition, custom-designed equipment for special research projects is fabricated by an expert instrument maker in the Instrument Shop in Park Science Center, and professional glassblowing services are available as needed.

Computer facilities in the sciences include laboratories with high-performance computing equipment, including SGI, SUN, LINUX and UNIX workstations. Teaching and research laboratories and classrooms have additional extensive computer resources for data analysis and instruction, including state-of-the-art video-projection systems.

Special Research Resources

Bryn Mawr houses several important resources that serve as vital research tools for undergraduate and graduate students.

The ethnographic and archaeological collections housed in Thomas Hall are two of many collections managed by the College’s Collection staff. Other Collection objects are housed in Thomas (see Archaeological Collections and Fine Arts Collections below). As a whole, the College Collection is comprised of Applied and Decorative Arts, Archaeology, Ethnography, Fine Art and Photography collections. The College Collection is accessible to Bryn Mawr students and serves as research resources. Collection objects are also used as teaching tools in the classroom and are exhibited in small displays in Dalton and Carpenter Library.

The Ethnographic and Archaeological Collections housed in Thomas Hall are comprised of objects from around the world and were systematically organized by the department’s founder, Frederica de Laguna. The largest portions of these collections originate from North America, South America and Africa. The William. S. Vaux Collection, a gift of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, consists of archaeology from North, Central and South America, and Old World Europe, and ethnographic objects made by Native Americans. Other important collections include: the Mace and Helen Katz Neufeld ’53 Collection of African and Oceanic Art; the Twyeffort-Hollenback Collection of Southwest Pottery and Native American Ethnography; the George and Anna Hawks Vaux ’35, M.A. ’41 Collection of Native American Basketry from the Southwest, California and the Pacific Northwest; and the Ward and Mariam Coffin Canaday, A.B. 1906 Collection of Pre-Columbian Ceramics and Textiles from Peru. These main collections have been augmented by important gifts from faculty members, alumnae and friends of the College, such as Frederica de Laguna ’27, Margaret Feurer Plass ’17, Conway Zirkle and Helen E. Kingsbury ’20, M.A. ’21, and Milton Nahm. The collections are also supplemented by departmental holdings of osteological specimens, casts of fossil hominids and a small but growing collection of ethnomusical recordings representing the music of native peoples in all parts of the world.

The Department of Anthropology also houses the Laboratory of Pre-Industrial Technology, which provides a variety of resources and instrumentation for the study of traditional technologies in the ancient and modern worlds. The anthropology laboratories are used by undergraduate and graduate students in other disciplines.

The Ella Riegel Memorial Study Collection of Classical Archaeology, housed on the third floor of the M. Carey Thomas Library, West Wing, is an excellent study collection of Greek and Roman minor arts, especially vases, a selection of preclassical antiquities, and objects from Egypt and the ancient Near East. It was formed from private donations, such as the Densmore Curtis Collection presented by Clarissa Dryden, the Elisabeth Washburn King Collection of classical Greek coins, and the Aline Abaecherli Boyce Collection of Roman Republican silver coins. The late Professor Hetty Goldman gave the Ella Riegel Memorial Study Collection an extensive series of pottery samples from the excavation at Tarsus in Cilicia. The objects in the collection are used used in teaching and for research projects by undergraduate and graduate students.

The Fine Arts Collections, based in Thomas Library, include important holdings of prints, drawings, photographs, paintings and sculpture. Among the highlights are a core collection of master European prints; the Van Pelt Collection of European and American prints from the 16th to the 20th centuries; the Scott Memorial Study Collection of Works by Contemporary Women Artists; collections of Japanese woodblock prints; Chinese paintings and calligraphy; the Michaelis Collection of early photography; and collections of the works of women photographers.

Because laboratory work in geology is based on observations in the field, the department conducts field trips in most of its courses and also has additional trips of general interest. To aid in the study of observations and samples brought back from the field, the department has excellent petrographic and analytical facilities, extensive reference and working mineral collections, including the George Vaux Jr. Collection and the Theodore D. Rand Collection of approximately 10,000 specimens each, and a fine fossil collection. As a repository for the U.S. Geological Survey, the map library contains 40,000 topographical maps.

The Department of Sociology helps maintain the Social Science Statistical Laboratory, which consists of computers and printers staffed by undergraduate user consultants. A library of data files is available for student and faculty research and instructional use. Data library resources include election and census studies, political and attitudinal polling data, historical materials on the city of Philadelphia, national and cross-national economic statistics, ethnographic data files for cross-cultural study, and a collection of materials relevant to the study of women. Access to other data is available through the College’s membership in the Inter-University Consortium for Political and Social Research.

The Rhys Carpenter Library houses the Visual Resources Center, which supports instruction by providing access to visual media and by facilitating the use of digital tools. The Center’s main role is serving coursework — principally in History of Art, Classical and Near Eastern Archaeology, and the Growth and Structure of Cities Program — through a collection of 240,000 slides as well as study prints and digitized images.

Facilities for the Arts

Goodhart Hall, which houses the Office of the Arts, is the College’s main performance space for theater and dance. The theater has a proscenium stage with options for thrust and studio theater formats. There are also nontraditional spaces on campus for productions of an intimate and/or experimental nature. The College has two dance studios, one over Pembroke Arch, which also serves as a smaller performance space, and the other in Bern Schwartz Gymnasium.

While the M. Carey Thomas Great Hall provides a large space for concerts and readings, the Goodhart Music Room is used for ensemble rehearsals and intimate chamber music recitals. Students may reserve time in the five practice rooms in Goodhart, all of which are furnished with grand pianos.

Arnecliffe Studio houses the program in painting and printmaking, and there is an additional drawing studio in Rockefeller Hall. The Gallery, located in the lower level of the Mariam Coffin Canaday Library, provides an intimate space for shows and exhibits.

Creative writing classes, workshops and readings take place in English House and the M. Carey Thomas Great Hall.

Campus Center

The Marie Salant Neuberger Centennial Campus Center, a transformation of the historic gymnasium building on Merion Green, opened in 1985. As the center for non-academic life, the facility houses a café, lounge areas, meeting rooms, the College post office and the bookshop. The offices of Career Development, Conferences and Events and Student Life are also located here. Students, faculty and staff use the campus center for informal meetings and discussion groups as well as for campus-wide social events and activities.

Computing Center

Eugenia Chase Guild Hall is the hub of Bryn Mawr’s distributed computing network. Students have access to a high-speed Internet connection in all residence halls, public computing laboratories and networked classrooms. The campus network provides access to online courses and course materials, e-mail, shared software and Tripod, the online library catalog system shared by Bryn Mawr, Haverford and Swarthmore Colleges. Bryn Mawr students receive their own e-mail and Web accounts upon arrival.

Guild Hall houses the professional computing staff, a Help Desk for students, multimedia development stations and the largest public computing laboratory on campus with 12 Apple Macintosh (Mac) G4s and 46 Windows XP computers. Professional staff are available to students, faculty and staff for consultation and assistance with their computer work. The student Help Desk is staffed 114 hours per week by students. Students at the Help Desk provide assistance to students in the public laboratories and phone support to students in their residence halls. These student “ops” are trained to troubleshoot software, hardware and networking problems and to help students, faculty and staff use computer technology efficiently. They are also trained in multimedia courseware development, and they assist faculty with their multimedia projects. The New Media Lab in Guild Hall is equipped with advanced software for digitizing and editing text, images, audio and video for the creation of interactive presentations and courseware.

Computing laboratories on campus are equipped as follows.

  • Canaday: eight Windows XP PCs.
  • Carpenter: five Mac G4s and five Windows XP PCs.
  • Collier: five Mac G4s and 10 Windows XP PCs.
  • Graduate School of Social Work and Social Research: eight Windows XP PCs.
  • Language Learning Center: 10 Mac G4s and nine Windows XP PCs.

Language Learning Center

The Language Learning Center (LLC) provides the audio, video and computing services necessary to support the acquisition of foreign languages and cultures. The LLC contains 23 workstations equipped with cassette tape recorders, multi-standard VCRs, DVD players and videodisc players; 19 computers, both PC and Mac; and monitors for viewing satellite news from around the world. Students and faculty have access to more than 2,400 audio cassettes and approximately 1,000 foreign language videos, DVDs, videodiscs and CD ROMs. The LLC supports e-mail, word processing and Internet access in the languages taught at the College and has a variety of language-learning programs to assist in foreign-language learning. Multimedia development stations are available for faculty and supervised student use. A projection unit enables the lab to be used for demonstration purposes or class use.


Bern Schwartz Gymnasium is the center of the College’s Athletics and Physical Education Program. This 50,000-square-foot facility houses an eight-lane swimming pool; a state-of-the-art wood floor for basketball, badminton and volleyball; and a fitness center that includes aerobic equipment, weight-training machines and a dance floor. This facility is augmented by two playing fields, a practice field and seven tennis courts.

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Bryn Mawr College · 101 North Merion Ave · Bryn Mawr · PA · 19010-2899 · Tel 610-526-5000