The UW-Madison Libraries have embarked on a major effort to transform campus libraries to better meet the changing needs of the campus community. In May 2019, the Physics, Astronomy, and Math libraries will begin the first phase of a consolidation project, which will take place over the course of the next two years. This is a closely coordinated effort with the Physics, Astronomy, and Math departments, as well as the College of Letters & Science.

Math Library

“This is an outstanding opportunity to reimagine our library spaces and services in collaboration with faculty, staff, and students in three departments on campus,” said Deborah Helman, Director of Science and Engineering Libraries at UW-Madison. “This is one of several projects the Libraries are working on across campus to enhance and advance the important work and research of our faculty, staff, and

Astronomy Library

students, both immediately, and into the future.”

The Libraries are dedicated to maintaining a staff presence and continuing to provide robust library services. We believe this is an opportunity to update one of our libraries that serves the heart of campus (the current Physics Library) and will provide more information on the timeline as additional detailed planning occurs. As we move forward, we want to ensure those using these libraries are informed of the changes and have information on how to continue to access library services, resources, materials, and staff throughout the transformation.

We encourage you to visit the Libraries’ website for information about this transition including an FAQ page, and as well as view updates on the Physics, Astronomy, and Math libraries’ websites.

Overview of Timeline

Summer – Fall 2019

  • Changes to pick-up locations for reserves and ILL materials for Astronomy and Physics beginning in May 2019.
  • Physics Library temporarily closes and Astronomy Library closes permanently. We expect collections to remain requestable
  • Physics Library and Astronomy Library collections are consolidated into the newly combined library or moved to a shelving facility.

Spring 2020

  • Combined Physics and Astronomy collections reopen as a combined library in the current Physics Library space.
  • Math Library permanently closes and is consolidated into the combined physical sciences library. Collections are consolidated into the newly combined physical sciences library or moved to a shelving facility. We expect collections to remain requestable

Summer 2020

  • Tentative: The combined physical sciences library temporarily closes or partially closes for the redevelopment of user spaces.

Fall 2020

  • The combined physical sciences library reopens with all active collections & services available.


  • WHERE WILL MATERIALS FROM PHYSICS, ASTRONOMY, AND MATH GO DURING THE TRANSITION? Many materials from the three libraries will be placed in the merged location, while some will be transferred to alternative shelving based on the frequency of use, and or electronically availability. Close coordination with the departments continues to take place to determine whether materials remain in the new library space, or are sent to alternative shelving.
  • WHY THE NEED FOR CHANGE? This transition of the Physics, Astronomy, and Math library spaces are part of the Libraries’ overall consolidation efforts across campus. It is a closely coordinated effort with the Physics, Astronomy, and Math departments, as well as College of Letters & Science. This activity will provide departments with the opportunity to reimagine and update the spaces where the Astronomy and Math Libraries are currently located in order to create spaces that meet new student and faculty needs. The Math Department is in the process of applying for NSF funding to start a new math institute centered in the current Math Library space. Alternatively, the Math Library will be converted to offices and collaborative research spaces to meet the needs of the department’s ongoing expansion. The Libraries will still provide important library resources, services, and materials to patrons. More specific details on the visions for these spaces will be shared in collaboration with the departments.
  • WHERE WILL INFORMATION BE SHARED ABOUT THE TRANSITION, MATERIALS ACCESSIBLILITY, ETC.? Updates will be made regularly on the Libraries’ website Rethinking Libraries page, the Physics, Astronomy, and Math websites until after collection work is complete, on the Libraries news page, through departmental emails, social media channels, and coordinated through campus news (when appropriate).