College library system ranked 8th best by Princeton Review

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August 7, 2008

3:49 PM

For the first time, the College has ranked highly on the Princeton Review’s list of the country’s best college libraries.

This is the first time the College has made the “Best College Library” list, which ranks only the top 20 schools.

The Princeton Review, a college-preparatory company that bases rankings on undergraduate student surveys, also releases a wide variety of best and worst lists on topics like radio stations, professor accessibility, diversity, religious acceptance and Greek parties. It also ranks named 368 universities the nation’s “best,” and does not rank them overall.

On July 28th, the rankings were released, with the College ranking eighth for “Best College Library.” The College was the top Virginia school on the list. The University of Virginia, the only other Virginia university on the list, placed 19th.

Dean of University Libraries Connie McCarthy said this rank is a positive spotlight for the College’s library system, which includes Swem Library, the VIMS library, and libraries for the schools of business, law and education.

“As with any ranking for the college or the library, it’s good visibility and recognition of quality of many factors of collections and services that create an excellent library,” McCarthy said.

Jim Heller, the director of the recently renovated Law Library, agreed.

“College libraries are all about service,” he said. “It’s a tribute to those working at the William and Mary libraries — Swem, Law, and VIMS — that our students here think so highly of library services that they shared their thoughts with the Princeton Review.”

2008 is the seventeenth year that the Princeton Review has rated university libraries, but this is the first time that the College has appeared on that list.

McCarthy commented that the sudden change was logical.

“These rankings are based on student perceptions, and since we finished the building project in 2005 and have created a new Swem, the library is tremendously popular with students,” she said, referring to the recent renovations that added what is now the third floor.

McCarthy and Heller didn’t know whether the College received its rank because of the Law Library’s 2007 renovations. However, the renovations to both Swem and the law library likely played a major role in the ranking.

“We are proud of our renovated and expanded libraries such as the Swem and the Wolf Law Library,” College spokesperson Brian Whitson said. “While rankings and polls never capture the total character of a close-knit campus community such as William and Mary, when we appear on lists such as Princeton Review’s best libraries, it does give us a sense of pride since these rankings are based on undergraduate surveys.”

From the Princeton Review’s top 368 schools, a total of 120,000 undergraduate students — an average of 326 per campus — completed surveys within the past two years, both online and on paper, that later determined the colleges that made it into the sixty-two ranking lists.

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