Library Hours for Summer


“Too soon we breast the tape and too late we realize the fun lay in the running.”   (Walt Kelly)


Here are our hours of operation for Leyburn Library and Telford Science Library for summer 2018.

  • May 29 through August 31  —  open weekdays 8:30am to 5:30pm   (closed weekends)


Photo by Allison Young (’20) from wlulex.

Honoring Our Senior Student Workers


Our student workers truly make it possible for the University Library to provide the services which help define a Washington and Lee education.  In the spring we recognize each of the graduating seniors who have worked with us as student workers by purchasing a book related to their major, their research, or their personal interest and then placing a dedicatory bookplate in the front of the volume.   (An example is at the bottom of this page.)

These books and their bookplates, along with a little information about each student, will be on display on the Main Floor of Leyburn Library through the week of Commencement.

We entusiastically thank these young women and men whose work and spirit have done so much to enhance the University Library.   We will miss you and we wish you the best of luck!


Mallory Stephenson (and one more)

Alice Tran (and one more)

Lauren McManus

Austin Choi

Hines Liles

Dani Leon-Osorio

Emily Stewart

Elizabeth Wolf

Monica Musgrave

Matthew Inglis

Christofer Chang

Truth Iyiewuare

Elizabeth McDonald

Rebecca Melkerson

Chandler Wickers

Arlette Hernandez




More Online Newspapers and Magazines


The Washington and Lee University Library recently enhanced its collection of online newspapers and magazines by acquiring several databases containing articles from millions of pages from publications from the first half of the early 20th century and earlier.   All of these new databases focus on publications from the United States and the United Kingdom.  Each of these resources is available to current W&L students, faculty, and staff from our Newspaper and Magazine Databases guide, as well as the A-Z Databases List and the Primo database.

19th Century U.S. Newspapers Digital Archive
About 500 U.S. newspapers from the 1800’s.

British Library Newspapers: Parts 1 – 5
Over 160 British regional and local British newspapers dating from the mid-18th century to 1950.

Financial Times Historical Archive
Complete contents from 1888 through 2010.

17th & 18th Century Nichols Collection of UK Newspapers
Digitized collection of U.K. newspapers dating from 1672 to 1737.

19th Century UK Periodicals
Magazines and journals published in Great Britain from 1800 to 1900.

Illustrated London News Historical Archive
Contents of this pictorial weekly newspaper of the same name from 1842 to 2003.

Punch Historical Archive
Complete 1842-1992 run of the British weekly humor/satire magazine.

Daily Mail Historical Archives
Full-text articles and images (1896-2004), plus Daily Mail Atlantic Edition (1923-1931).




MLK and W&L 50 Years Ago


Martin Luther King was assassinated on 4 April 1968.  What did Washington and Lee University media have to say about this event and the aftermath?

We can point to two noteworthy issues of the student newspaper the Ring Tum Phi.   The 12 April 1968 issue, published one week after the event, included a very thoughtful editorial on page 2 entitled “Seven Years,” in which the author described a memorial service on campus, one which took place “on the very anniversary of the day Lee surrendered, and over Lee’s own tomb…”   The writer goes on to note that “only seven years ago” the Board of Trustees refused to allow Dr. King to speak at W&L.

Two weeks later, in the 26 April 1968 issue (page 2), a student named Pleas Geyer wrote of his attendance at Dr. King’s funeral in Atlanta.  Two other articles on the same page addressed “racial tension” and integration at the University.

The links above  (accessible to current students, faculty, and staff from both on- and off-campus locations) take a reader to the University Library’s Digital Archive collection of the Ring Tum Phi .    Interesting note: The name “Martin Luther King” appears in 121 issues of the Phi from 1961 to 2013.

One final retrospective view of W&L is available in the 1968 Calyx , the official student yearbook.


Dictionaries Keeping Up with English


Any dictionary worth its salt (and where did that come from?) needs to keep growing.

The Washington and Lee University Library subscribes to the online sites of the two preeminent dictionaries of the English language and both of them recently revealed extensive additions to their empires of words.

Merriam-Webster Unabridged, the contemporary heir to Noah Webster’s American Dictionary of the English Language, is our most comprehensive guide to terminology in the modern English-language , at least, that of the American variety.   This database recently was enhanced by the addition of about 850 words and definitions, including glamping, dumpster fire, and mansplain.
This site also keeps tabs on the entries most often consulted in its collection; it should not be surprising that pi was heavily viewed around 3/14/18 and that Ides trended the next day.

The world’s preeminent etymological dictionary, the Oxford English Dictionary, is focused on documenting the history of English-language words, so their “new” words probably are not likely newly-born in 2017-18.   Still, the OED‘s research into where words came from and how they have changed in meaning and/or spelling continues, with their latest list of new/old words and definitions  including ransomware, footsie, and the intriguing diaper cake.

Certainly, both resources are worth their salt.

Kerner Commission Report


Fifty years ago this week one of the most famous “government documents” in modern times was published.

On 29 February 1968 the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders, forever known as the Kerner Commission (for its chairman, Governor Otto Kerner of Illinois), released its report on the causes of racial and economic unrest in the United States, reaching the chilling conclusion that “Our Nation is moving toward two societies, one black, one white — separate and unequal.”    The report was initially released as a free Federal Government publication and actually was reprinted commercially as a paperback and became a national best-seller, eventually out-selling the Warren Commission report on the assassination of President John Kennedy.

The W&L University Library has a printed copy of the Commission’s original release (along with a volume of supporting studies), as well as the commercially-published version.    It also is available without-charge and in its entirety in Google Books.

In 2018 many news sources, such as National Public Radio, are noting the 50th anniversary of the report and calling attention to the release of a new study which seeks to update the Kerner Commission’s work for our times.  The library has ordered a printed copy of this new book, Healing Our Divided Society.


[from Report of the National Advisory Commission on Civil Disorders]

Phillis Wheatley and George Washington


The University Library of Washington and Lee University is the proud owner of a first American edition of a volume entitled Poems on Various Subjects, Religious and Moral, written by the first published African-American author, Phillis Wheatley.

Our Head of Special Collections and Archives, Tom Camden, recently contributed to the W&L website an essay, “Phillis Wheatley: ‘Favored by the Muses’,” which provides some perspective on this rare volume and its author.

One of Wheatley’s better-known poems which does not appear in this volume is “His Excellency General Washington,” which she sent directly to George Washington in 1775   General Washington was moved by the poem and wrote directly to the former slave to thank her for her creation.   W&L researchers can can use the University Library’s subscription to the Digital Edition of the Papers of George Washington to read Wheatley’s original letter to Washington, the enclosed copy of her poem, and Washington’s reply.    The poem was first published in the Virginia Gazette on 30 March 1776.


[Statue is part of the Boston Women’s Memorial.]

New Circulation Rules


You may have heard that the year 2018 is bringing to Washington and Lee a new library search interface for books, articles, and other materials.   (See “Search Primo” on the University Library homepage.)

But the new year also has brought major changes in circulation rules for books and other items.  For the first time in over 35 years,  there are new rules for how long you can keep something you check out.   Here are the details for various user categories:

  • W&L students will check out books for 90 days.   This replaces the old academic term circulation period.
  • W&L faculty and staff will check out books for one calendar year; a book checked out on 3 January 2018 will be due by 3 January 2019.   (I assume we can cope with leap years.)   This replaces a single date in each summer for all books checked out in the previous academic year.
  • Local residents and local students will check out books for 28 days.

Rules for special categories of materials:

  • Books in our McNaughton Collection (popular reading, aka sex-and/or-violence) will be checked out by the same rules that apply (above) to each category of users.   So, for example, W&L faculty could check out the latest John Grisham book for one year.
  • Circulating DVD’s will continue to be available for 3-day check-out.
  • There are no changes to circulation rules for materials on reserve at the Information Desk, including technology items, or for materials borrowed via interlibrary loan.

As always, our users can request that a book currently checked out be returned for their use (once that book has been out at least 2 weeks).  However, with the new Primo search tool, you must login to the system to be able to place such a request.   Note that in this example of a book currently checked out, there is a prompt to “Please sign in..”

That’s the gist of it.   If you have a question, please feel free to contact Head of Access Services Elizabeth Teaff or Access Services Supervisor Laura Hewett.

There’s Cicero, and Then There’s Cicero


Finding a copy of the works of Cicero, even in Latin, is not the challenge or achievement it once might have been.  Even venerable, “rare” copies are more accessible than ever.   For example, large sets may be available free-of-charge online, such as the HathiTrust’s digitized copies (from Harvard University) of a set published in the 1740’s.

But sometimes particular volumes’ history make them more “rare” than others.   Tom Camden, Head of Special Collections in Washington and Lee’s University Library, recently discovered the unique history of some volumes over 250 years old which makes them even more “Rare by Association.”

Farewell to the Library Catalog


You may have heard that the W&L University Library is getting rid of our library catalog.   Unlike so much of the fake news flying around these days, this tidbit is somewhat true.

Our online catalog (aka “Annie”) will celebrate its 26th anniversary during the upcoming Thanksgiving break — and then we will bury it shortly after Christmas.   In late December the contents of the catalog will be subsumed within a larger “discovery” database system and will continue to be available, but not as a separate listing.    We will be sharing more about that new system over the coming weeks.

To get some idea of the impact of the arrival of Annie in 1991, see the 9 January 1992 Ring Tum Phi article, below.

Our current transition is creating a few situations which may directly affect students and faculty right now:

  • Requests for books, videos, or other materials needed for the start of Winter Term must be submitted by November 15.
  • Links to the library catalog (such as this)  in course syllabi or other online locations will not work after December 27.
  • Some online resources, such as databases and electronic journals, are being removed from the catalog’s listings.   If you are looking for a link to one of these, please try other options available on our homepage:   Database List  |  Journals List  |  Subject & Course Guides