Main Level

mermaid weathervane on display in Waidner-Spahr Library

Original mermaid weathervane.

Dickinson Mermaid

When Benjamin Latrobe designed Old West, he wanted a weathervane in the likeness of a triton to be placed on top of the building’s cupola. But it is believed that the local coppersmith didn’t know what a triton was and fashioned a mermaid instead. The mermaid has been a beloved Dickinson symbol ever since. The subject of pranks throughout the years, the mermaid has ridden a bicycle atop Old West and, in a separate incident, was nearly lost to auction after being stolen. Today, the original mermaid resides safely in the library, and a replica adorns Old West.


The faculty publications display provides a glimpse into the recent work of the accomplished Dickinson faculty. Dickinson Writes features publications by Dickinson alumni.

Students studying at tables in the Biblio Café

Students studying at tables in the Biblio Café

Biblio Café

This is the site of many of the library’s events. Meet with friends for morning coffee or a late-night snack.


The library has a robust and ever-expanding DVD collection, which includes documentaries and other films for academic use, as well as feature films for general viewing. With a collection like this, who needs Netflix?

Dickinson Reads

A departure from the research-centered library collection, this shelf highlights recent literature and nonfiction titles for leisure reading.

lecturer in the Biblio Café

A lecture in the Biblio Café

Stafford Reading Area

The light from floor-to-ceiling windows makes the Stafford Reading Area a great place to grab a seat in a comfortable leather chair, sip some coffee and read your favorite newspaper or magazine.

Heart of the Campus

In addition to assisting students with their academic pursuits, Dickinson librarians and library staff organize lectures, performances and special exhibits for the Dickinson community several times a semester. During fall and spring finals the library is open 24 hours and the staff organizes short activities to reduce stress and provides snacks.

student putting finishing touches on cardboard sculpture in the library

Student finishing her cardboard sculpture.

Circulation Desk

This desk is a one-stop shop for accessing all of the library’s services, including borrowing items like books and DVDs; getting course-reserve and interlibrary-loan materials; and seeking reference assistance from the college’s librarians.

Student Artwork

The recent works of Dickinson’s talented photography club are on display near the circulation desk. Additional student photos and works by recipients of the college’s Weiss Prize are hanging throughout the library.


The library provides two Mediascape stations on the main level. These stations allow up to five students to attach their personal computers to large shared screens for group work.

students working at mediascape collaboration table

Mediascape collaboration table.

Writing Center

Students struggling to write a paper or who don’t understand a writing assignment can make an appointment with the Writing Center. Trained student tutors offer helpful advice at any stage of the writing process.

Multilingual Writing Center

The MWC assists writers of all levels and abilities who are working on essays written in Arabic, Chinese, French, German, Hebrew, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, Russian or Spanish.

Quantitative Reasoning (QR) Center

Dickinson's Quantitative Reasoning Center supports students in science, social science, and humanities courses with a QR emphasis. Tutors provide assistance with basic quantitative skills, including arithmetic, algebra, geometry, graphing, writing about numbers, conceptualizing statistics, data management, and data visualization.

Liaison Librarian Offices

Anyone requiring research assistance—from tackling the library databases to citing resources in a paper—can stop by the circulation desk for a referral to a librarian. Librarians meet face-to-face with library users, and they won’t even make you use your quiet voice. Librarians also can be contacted by e-mail, phone and live chat.