Skip to main content

Today's hours:

See all library hours »

  • Ask a Librarian
  • FAQ

About the Libraries

Mission Statement


The Vassar College Libraries participate in the educational mission of the College by providing a basis for open inquiry and research in the arts and sciences as well as by providing an informational framework for the instructional activities of the teaching faculty.

The mission of the College as it was stated in the First Annual Catalogue is: "to furnish the means of a thorough, well-proportioned and liberal education." This mission is expressed today in the Vassar College Mission Statement, which defines qualities of inquiry, knowledge, imagination, and social and historical consciousness that Vassar seeks to develop in its students, and places a premium on "the immediate experience of creative ideas, works of art, and scientific discoveries" in this endeavor.


These qualities reflect the wider collective enterprise of advancing and disseminating knowledge in which the College participates. The values integral to this endeavor define the role of the libraries within the educational mission of the College, indicate its responsibility to this wider community, and are inherent in the act of reading itself. They include:

  • curiosity
  • freedom of expression
  • equality of access
  • the willingness to consider new ideas and ways of understanding
  • esteem for original thought and creativity
  • respect for diverse points of view
  • the desire to test and evaluate information
  • the importance of memory
  • the need to communicate.

History and Mandate

The fundamental importance of the library to the educational mission of the College was recognized by the original Trustees of the College in the first Report of the Library Committee on February 25, 1861 where they specified that the new library should be developed with "as much completeness and perfection as possible" by creating collections of the best works obtainable in the arts and sciences.

Vassar College has fulfilled the aspirations of its founders by developing and supporting an exceptional system of libraries with deep and expansive collections, extraordinary physical facilities, and a staff of professionals and para-professionals committed to strengthening these collections and providing services that promote their most effective use.

Today, changing technologies that affect the way information is produced, stored, and disseminated furnish new opportunities for providing students and faculty with the most complete and perfect access possible to the rapidly-expanding universe of learning. To secure this access, librarians are developing new methodologies for assessing, maintaining, mapping and delivering information as the instruments of intellectual transmission evolve.

Goals and Objectives

  • To deploy new and traditional intellectual technologies to identify, evaluate, select, organize, create, preserve, and make readily available collections of primary and secondary resources;
  • To provide common environments, physical and virtual, where readers, authors, information, and technologies of transmission are brought together in relationships that could not take place otherwise;
  • To actively collaborate with faculty to provide research and instruction services, both group and individual, to ensure that students acquire the research competencies, evaluative skills, attitudes, and knowledge base necessary to function effectively in an increasingly complex information environment;
  • To collaborate with other producers, publishers, and users of information in order to explore and develop new mechanisms for the creation, preservation, and communication of knowledge;
  • To serve as a repository for the College Archives, and to participate locally, nationally, and globally with other cultural and professional organizations and institutions in efforts to preserve, augment, and disseminate our collective documentary heritage;
  • To publicize the Libraries' collections and services through publications, lecture series, exhibitions, and other programs;
  • To support legislation and other efforts that seek to secure and defend the rights that are critical to the free flow of information;
  • To promote staff excellence through formal and informal opportunities to improve and develop skills including support for participation in professional and para-professional organizations and societies;
  • To cooperate closely in the performance of these activities with other participants and stakeholders in the educational enterprises of the College.

Guiding Principles

The Library management group has developed a set of  guiding principles that, in addition to our mission statement, will provide a framework for our planning and decision-making in the next five years.

  • We will provide a high level of service that is consonant with the prevailing needs of the community.
  • We will develop the collection to reflect the pedagogical needs of the faculty and students.
  • We will facilitate access to and delivery of resources/information that are essential for student and faculty research.
  • We will consider current pedagogical needs in the selection of materials to be housed on campus.
  • We will organize the physical campus collection to enhance browsability.
  • We will provide an appropriate environment for users and materials.
  • We will preserve our resources for current and future users.
  • We will employ data in our decision-making processes.
  • We will leverage technology to assist in achieving all of the above.

View of Thompson Library ceiling, chandelier, and tapestries