OSP | Capability Statement | The University Library

The Library at American University serves as an important cultural, technological, and intellectual space on campus. Librarians at American University work closely with others to support faculty and student research. In collaboration with academic support centers, departments, and university administrators, assistance is provided through reference service, instruction, and via active liaison relationships between subject specialists and their respective academic units on campus. Last year 625,589 people visited the library.

American University researchers have access to more than seven million volumes as a benefit of the university’s membership in the Washington Research Library Consortium. The university’s collections have 980,000 books including 701,518 print books, more than 20,000 e-books, and 258,000 books and other printed primary source materials in Early American Imprints Series I and II and Eighteenth Century Collections Online. The library subscribes to more than 300 databases, 60,000 on-line periodicals, 1,000 print periodicals, 41,000 media and sound recordings, and 1.1 million microforms. The Library also holds additional digital collections which support primary source research including, but not limited to, the Foreign Broadcast Information Service Archive, an extensive collection of historical newspapers; Editions and Adaptations of Shakespeare; Declassified Documents Reference System; and LexisNexis Congressional Hearings, Record, and U.S. Serials Set.

The university’s Archives and Special Collections represent an important element of the library’s role on campus and support the university’s goal to demonstrate distinction in graduate studies. The library has been fortunate enough to acquire many important primary source collections through the generosity of various donors. Other developments in this area include the completion of some important digitization projects such as the university’s collection of syllabi being made available on-line. This collection is now part of the American University Research Commons—a digital repository.

The Library has recently completed several significant projects to better accommodate the university community.  A major redesign of the first floor increased the number of individual computer workstations and quick print stations.  The reference desk was reconfigured to better enable collaborative work, especially important since the reference desk received over 18,000 electronic and in-person inquiries last year.  The library also added four group study rooms equipped with technology, and a new training and events room to be used for library events, instruction, and open study space. All these innovations supplement the role of the library as a research and study center and serve as an important catalyst for scholarly discussion and exchange. Another key renovation was made to the Media Services Section and involved expansion of the Digital Media Studio. This included the construction of 27 individual carrels and four media production studios.  These new facilities will support the growing need for creation of multimedia works and research projects.