Helen C. White Hall, where College Library is located, opened in 1971

The Library of the Month for September is College Library, the undergraduate library on campus! In many ways, College Library is like a public library in an academic setting—students visit not only to study or to get help with their papers and projects, but also to check out DVDs, magazines, video games and books, and to socialize with friends over lunch or coffee at the Open Book Café.  It’s the only library on campus that’s open 24 hours a day, 5 days a week, and since it’s housed in Helen C. White Hall, College Library boasts some of the best views of Lake Mendota on campus!


In addition to academic gems like the Ethnic Studies Collection and the Gaus Collection of American & British poetry, College Library is also home to the Open Book Collection.  Open Book is housed on the first floor, right across from—and named after—the Open Book Café.  The collection is arranged like a book store: with titles  arranged by genre, which makes the whole collection fun to browse.  Mysteries, self-help books, and travel guides are popular offerings in the collection, as are a variety of DVDs, magazines, and video games—the librarians at College work hard to keep these collections up-to-date with new releases.

And don’t forget the Career Collection! Learning how to find fulfilling work and build a résumé might not be part of a college course, but it is something you can learn to do at College Library with the help of a variety of resources in the Career Collection, including classics like What Color Is Your Parachute? Librarians consult with staff at the Letters & Science Career Services to get suggestions for new items to add collection to make sure they have the best resources possible for new job seekers.

There’s something for everyone in College Library…even makeout sessions with Bucky.


College is one of the campus libraries with the highest traffic (there were nearly a million visits last year alone), and the space is used in many different ways.  In addition to being a go-to study space for undergraduates, the Math Department holds classes in the WisCEL Center on the third floor of the library. A classroom by day, WisCEL  doubles as a computer lab and group study space in the evening.  The  space also has lots of glass walls and a great view,  with workstations that take advantage of the natural light.

The new, collaborative Media Studios at College extend this multi-functional approach by creating flexible learning spaces.  Tables in the Media Studios can be configured in a variety of ways,  depending upon the needs of media-intensive classes using the space throughout the day.   As with WisCEL, this space is open to the general public for computing and group-study needs in the evening.  The Media Studios are conveniently located next to DesignLab where consultants are available to help students improve the thought, look, and feel of their media projects.

One final example of the partnerships that College Library has fostered over the past few years is the Student Services Area which is available for general library use during the day but then reserved for campus partners such as GUTS, Cross College Advising, and the Writing Center during the library’s busier evening hours.

There’s no Party like the Helen C. House Party. Play Human Foos Ball at this year’s bash!


College Library is known for its epic events—anyone who has lived through finals week at college knows that it’s far more fun to “study strong” when supportive librarians provide study breaks and support throughout exams, including:

  • Therapy dogs
  • Free coffee nights
  • A button maker
  • Surprise pizza deliveries
  • Visits from Bucky Badger!

The annual Helen C. House Party is a Wisconsin Welcome event that has reached legendary status on campus: it gets students into the library early, so they can see what the space is like and get to know the librarians—who are decidedly not the shushing type. College Library staff are pulling out all the stops for the 5th House Party this year, transforming the library into a carnival, with events like Human Foosball, Team Trivia, and a Retro Photo Booth.  You can join the fun on September 12th beginning at 8 p.m.

All manner of awesome activities, games, people, performers, and crafts will be scattered through the library space, including the beloved College Library button maker and arts and crafts stations, performances by student groups, face painting, fortune telling, video games, an animation station from The Bubbler (Madison Public Library’s makerspace), and public library card sign-up.  Oh, and did we mention all of the free sandwiches and pizza?  Don’t miss it!

Want More?

Questions about the Helen C. House Party? Get in touch with a librarian:

  • Carrie Kruse, Director
  • Pamela O’Donnell, Communications Librarian