Aerial view of WEB Du Bois Library on a summer afternoon with blue skies

Where Opportunity Stands Tall

From historic archives to peregrine falcon chicks, UMass Amherst Libraries offer a world of resources, events, and fun to the campus community.
Du Bois at sunset
Photo credit: William Kraft

It's hard to miss the W. E .B. Du Bois Library on UMass Amherst campus — at a staggering 286.5 feet tall and containing nearly six million books, the building is considered the largest academic library in the world. Standing at its entrance, looking up, and barely getting a glimpse of the top gives you a sense of its monumental presence. 

But the stature of the Du Bois Library is just one of many impressive feats contained within the university's library system. The three buildings affiliated with UMass Amherst —Du Bois, the Science and Engineering Library, and the Wadsworth Library on the Mount Ida Campus—house extraordinary findings that go well beyond the stacks.

Whether you're seeking an academic journal for a niche research paper or community-building opportunities, the libraries are a hub of learning, exploration, and fun. What will you discover on your next visit?


Books on shelves on both sides of the frame with a long corridor in the middle

The Libraries lend to more than UMass Amherst students—borrowing is also available to faculty, staff, adult Massachusetts residents, alumni, and current students at all public Massachusetts colleges and universities. It's not just books, either; laptops, media, and multimedia equipment are also available to borrow.

A magnifying glass looks at a 3D printed item

The Digital Media Lab at the Du Bois Library contains a vast array of services, including: 3D printing at the 3D Innovation Center;  media production; virtual and augmented reality; and more.

A student walks through the Learning Commons in the WEB Du Bois Library

The Libraries offer full-content access to journal and newspaper articles, datasets, images, and more from more than 450 databases. Not sure where to start? Support is offered by email, phone, chat, or text.

Students look at textbooks while in a private study space in the library

Every department within UMass Amherst has a librarian assigned to them. These tailored librarians connect students to the specific expertise and resources available to their majors, programs, and disciplines.

An outdoor eating space is featured in the WEB Du Bois garden


black and white view of Old Chapel from 1920

The University Archives contain the official and unofficial records of UMass Amherst throughout its evolution from a small agricultural college into the dynamic and complex university it is today.

Daniel Ellsberg observes pieces of his archival collection donated to UMass Amherst

The Daniel Ellsberg Collection is a major initiative exploring the life and legacy of Daniel Ellsberg, the whistleblower who leaked the Pentagon Papers to the press in 1971 and risked life in prison to reveal the truth about the US government’s policy in Vietnam.

web du bois

Scholar, writer, editor of The Crisis and other journals, co-founder of the Niagara Movement, the NAACP, and the Pan African Congresses, W. E. B. Du Bois articulated the strivings of African Americans and helped usher in the modern civil rights movement. The collection includes over 100,000 items of correspondence, speeches, articles, newspaper columns, books, research materials, and more.

A photo of women in the foreground focused on someone out of frame while sitting at tables

To raise awareness of the issues and increase visibility of the unique contributions of Black women, women of color, and transfem people, Distinguished Alumna Dr. Irma McClaurin ’76MFA, ’89MA, ’93PhD founded the Irma McClaurin Black Feminist Archive (BFA). It is a collaboration with UMass Amherst Robert S. Cox Special Collections and University Archives and the W.E.B. Du Bois Center. 


Peregrine Falcon Chick
a peregrine falcon chick is held and banded by a wildlife expert

Peregrine falcons have successfully nested on the roof of the Du Bois Library at UMass Amherst since 2003. In 2012, a live web camera was installed, allowing the public to watch the falcon pair raise their chicks. When the chicks mature, the Massachusetts Division of Fisheries and Wildlife band the chicks, coded by color and location, to allow wildlife researchers to track the movements and histories of the falcons over time.


A person in a Spider Man costume checks out a book at the Du Bois Library
Students paint together at paint night inside the Du Bois Library
One of the many craft nights as part of the Libraries' Outreach Series.

Over the years, the Libraries have recognized that students need time to reconnect with their peers, find joy outside the classroom, and unwind. With this in mind, the UMass Amherst Libraries Outreach Series was created, allowing for students to engage with and inside the Libraries in approachable ways. From open mic nights and trivia contests to gaming, costumes, and the wildly-popular indoor-mini-golf, students have the opportunity to make new friends and expand their social circles.

Two students hold up handmade jewelry
Jewelry-making has been featured in the Libraries' Outreach Series.

In addition to the Outreach Series, Libraries staff prioritize a lighthearted, relatable approach to their communications with the community, with hopes that students, staff, and the general public come to appreciate the Libraries as inclusive, supportive spaces.

Find the UMass Amherst Libraries on social media for more information and updates to their programming.


This story was originally published in April 2022.

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