11 Things Every First-Year Should Know About The Library

This term is different than most; but, the library remains committed to supporting student needs whether they are in-person or virtual.

Review the below facts every first-year should know because…



  1. In order to forestall the potential spread of Covid-19, many library services and policies will be different for Fall 2020. The library appreciates student understanding during this time. We’re all in this together as we work to keep our campus community healthy & safe.
    Notable library changes include:

    • Leyburn Library will have abbreviated hours of accessibility:
      • Monday – Thursday: 7:00 a.m. – 2:00 a.m. ​
      • Friday, 7:00 a.m. – midnight​
      • Saturday, noon – midnight​
      • Sunday, noon – 2:00 a.m.
    • A W&L swipe card is required for building entry at all times.
    • While in Leyburn and Telford, masks must be worn at all times in all spaces, ​except for quick snacks ​or sips of beverages.
    • The library will not check out carrels. Carrels can be used temporarily by individuals. Personal materials should be removed upon departure.
    • Full meals should not be eaten in Leyburn or Telford.
    • The library will no longer check out chargers, headphones, or calculators.

Back to the regular library facts…

  1. Most US university libraries use the Library of Congress system to organize their physical book collections, and so do we–not the Dewey Decimal System. The Library of Congress System uses a combination of letters AND numbers for top level categories.
  2. Your university swipe card serves as your “library card.” Just present it when checking out or use it at one our our self-checkout terminals.
  3. The library is a lot more than a warehouse for physical books, although it has those too. It provides access to ebooks, DVDs, online articles, databases, government documents, streaming media, technology for checkout, and more! library.wlu.edu is the portal to find it all AND online content can be accessed on- or off-campus.
  4. The University Library provides access to a variety of databases. JSTOR is great, but there is much, much more available to W&L students.
  5. The library doesn’t own every resource. That’s what Interlibrary Loan is for. If we don’t have a book or article, we’ll get in from another library anywhere in the world. Free to W&L students.
  6. The library staff wants to help you. They are experts in finding, evaluating, and using information…basically, research! Make an appointment with a librarian for a virtual consultation. Or, drop by out virtual LibChat at library.wlu.edu!
  7. You will hear a lot of the Honor System and plagiarism in your time at W&L. The University Catalog recommends the library’s guide to avoiding plagiarism as a helpful resource.
  8. You’ll likely use several different citation styles during college, the library is happy to answer citation questions and even offer support in the use of the Zotero citation manager.
  9. Special Collections & Archives, on Leyburn’s Lower Level 1, houses rare books, manuscripts, and institutional and local history. Special Collections is opened Monday-Friday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. For Fall 2020, there is a 6 researcher cap in occupancy.
  10. Finally, be prepared for even more changes–good changes! Leyburn Library will be home to a future teaching and learning center, CARPE. In preparation for this, you might notice some construction.🚧
    • Because of the construction, Leyburn’s Lower Level 2 will be inaccessible Monday-Friday, from 7 a.m. to 6 p.m., during Fall 2020.
    • Leyburn’s Lower Level 1 will be inaccessible in the Winter/Spring of 2021: Special Collections will remain accessible during this time.

We love the library and hope you will too. Reach out anytime with questions.

Leyburn Library Photo

Leyburn Library Call Number Location Changes

In preparation for the eventual installation of CARPE, the Center for Academic Resources & Pedagogical Excellence, physical materials are now organized in the following permanent locations within Leyburn Library:

    • Main Floor: reference collection, DVDs, current periodicals, & books on CD
    • Lower Level 1: books with call numbers A – BQ
    • Lower Level 2: books with call numbers BR – F (excluding science titles)
    • Lower Level 3: books with call numbers G through PQ
    • Lower Level 4: books with call numbers PR through Z (excluding science titles), all folios, bound periodicals, government documents, and VHS tapes

Problems finding something? Stop by Leyburn Library’s Information Desk—safely staffed using acrylic safety dividers. Or, email library@wlu.edu.

Have problems navigating Library of Congress (LOC) call numbers? They are a lot different from Dewey! Review our “How to Read a Library of Congress Call Number” handout, available as a machine readable PDF.

Thank You, Dick Grefe!

Picture of Dick Grefe

Senior Reference Librarian and Associate Professor,
photo by K. Remington

This summer, the University Library says goodbye to three stellar employees: Sydney Bufkin, who completed her Mellon Digital Humanities Fellowship, and retirees Carol Blair and Dick Grefe.

Normally, we would celebrate our friends with a cake-filled fête. Because in-person celebrations aren’t possible due to Covid-19, we celebrate their contributions digitally…until we can safely gather together again.

In this post, we recognize Senior Reference Librarian and Associate Professor Dick Grefe. Dick joined the library on July 1, 1980. In his early days at W&L, Dick was responsible for Public Services (circulation and Interlibrary Loan) in addition to his role in reference. In 1989, Dick shifted to full-time in reference as the Senior Reference Librarian.

For the past 4 decades, Dick served as a well respected, and highly recognizable, member of the library faculty: providing detailed one-on-one research support, teaching credit-bearing courses, visiting classes to deliver course-specific research tutorials, coordinating the library’s government documents, substantially supporting Mock Con research needs, and so much more. Upon retirement, Dick served as library contact (or liaison) to a vast array of social science disciplines and interdisciplinary programs: Africana Studies; East Asian Studies; Education; Film Studies; Journalism and Mass Communications; Latin American and Caribbean Studies; Middle East and South Asia Studies;Politics; Poverty Studies; Sociology and Anthropology; Russian Area Studies; and Women’s, Gender, and Sexuality Studies.

Film Society 1983

Dick Grefe & the Film Society, The Calyx, 1983

Dick visibly supports and serves the university, and its students, outside of curricular confines. A champion of student sports, particularly soccer, Dick frequents the stands of Alston Parker Watt Field. For many years, Dick advised the student Film Society—as evident in the provided Film Society group photo from the 1983 Calyx.

One blog post cannot adequately capture Dick’s 4 decades of service to the library and university. Although verging on ineffable, we thank Dick for his vast contributions.

The following notes, from John Tombarge and Elizabeth Teaff, further highlight Dick’s impact.

Picture of John Tombarge

John Tombarge

A note from Dick’s long-time colleague, John Tombarge:

Over the years, Dick made a special effort to welcome prospective students to the library. It was Dick, too, who introduced most of the incoming class to the library each fall. He built much of the print collection and played an influential role as the library moved into the digital era, always paying close attention to new materials needed in specific classes and on the watch for popular research topics.

Always a strong advocate for our students, he is known for long meetings with students to help them with their research and regularly created individual research guides to help them get started. He is also known for his willingness to drop whatever he is working on to help students and faculty who show up at his office door. Dick also served as the faculty adviser to the Film Society for twenty-five years. A steadfast adviser for students preparing for Mock Con, he sought special funding to support their research every four years. He is also an avid supporter of all W&L athletics.

Over the years, Dick has served as a role model for librarians and their liaison responsibilities. As a reference librarian to reference librarians, he has always been a resource, talking through research strategies with other librarians working on problems or special projects. We offer our best wishes on a well-deserved retirement.

Picture of Elizabeth Teaff

Elizabeth Teaff

A note from Dick’s long-time colleague, Elizabeth Teaff:

Congratulations to Associate Professor Dick Grefe on his retirement. Over the course of many decades and two millennia, Dick has worked tirelessly to support the research needs of Washington and Lee faculty and students. His institutional knowledge and reference skills will be sorely missed. On a personal note, I have greatly benefited from all the guidance and support he has given me during my time at the University Library.

Dick served as primary library contact for various departments and programs. The following list identifies which individuals will now serve as the primary contact for those areas of research and study: