Best College Libraries

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Below is a list of the best college libraries. The methodology used to determine this list included surveys sent to current students and interviews of experienced professionals in the industry. Additionally, the number of books, digital resources, computer labs, and other statistics were considered.

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Princeton University

Princeton, NJ
$40,170 annually

Princeton University in New Jersey is one of the best academic programs found in the world. Today, they have more than <10 libraries that create some of the finest resources in academia. Popular names that you have the likely heard before include the Mendel Music Library, Furth Plasma Physics Library, East Asian Library, and the Mudd Manuscript Library.


1 Nassau Hall
Princeton, NJ 08544-0070
(609) 258-3000

Georgetown University

Washington, DC
$32,310 annually

Georgetown University offers students a chance to be a part of an award-winning university library system. Students, researchers, faculty and alumni are the focus at each of the local and international branches of Georgetown libraries. Adding to previous goals, this library wants to be known around the world for being the “icon of transformation” by 2020.


37th and O St NW
Washington, DC 20057-0001
(202) 687-0100

University of Pennsylvania

Philadelphia, PA
$45,890 annually

The University of Pennsylvania takes pride in their online catalog called Franklin, and uses it to facilitate all that their library system has to offer. Much more than a single branch, there are several specific collections disbursed into 10 different university libraries. Locations of notoriety include the Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Center for Advanced Judaic Studies Library, and the Dental Medicine Library.


34th & Spruce Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6303
(215) 898-5000

University of Michigan - Ann Arbor

Ann Arbor, MI
$13,142 in state;
$40,392 out of state

The University of Michigan has several prominent libraries that are associated with their system including the Gerald R. Ford Library, Transportation Research Institute Library, and the Bentley Historical Library. Staff from this library system are also associated with initiatives co-authored by Harvard such as the 2010 Digital Library Project.


503 Thompson Street
Ann Arbor, MI 48109
(734) 764-1817

Brigham Young University

Provo, UT
$3,850 annually

Brigham Young University has a long history of bringing top-rated services to their library patrons. In addition, this university system library operates award-winning facilities including their Motion Picture Archive and the genealogy libraries. Altogether, this university contains over 15 branches at campuses in Utah and Nevada.


Main Campus
Provo, UT 84602
(801) 422-4636

Lehigh University

Bethlehem, PA
$43,520 annually

Lehigh University offers facilities at two major libraries on their campus including the Linderman Library and the Fairchild-Martindale Library. Like major universities throughout the United States, most of their periodicals are in digital format and they have extensive computer research capabilities. One interesting note is that the Federal Depository government document collection is housed at this campus.


27 Memorial Drive West
Bethlehem, PA 18015
(610) 758-3000

Diné College

Tsaile, AZ
$805 annually

Diné College is located in Tsaile, Arizona and has library branches in Crownpoint and Shiprock. Their Shiprock main branch is a stunning work of art that reflects their architecture leanings and Navajo historic background. They also have satellite branches in Tuba City, Kayenta, Chinle, Window Rock, and Ganado to meet their students’ needs.


Route 12, One Circle Drive
Tsaile, AZ 86556
(928) 724-6600

Columbia University in the City of New York

New York, NY
$49,138 annually

Columbia University is a top-ranking institution, and their libraries reflect this standard. Students can enjoy digitalized access to important resources and eclectic presentations as well. For example, Butler Library employs a graphic novel librarian. Popular libraries housed at Columbia University include the Teachers College Library, Columbia Center for Oral History, Journalism Library, and the Jewish Theological Seminary Library.


West 116 St and Broadway
New York, NY 10027
(212) 854-1754

Cornell University

Ithaca, NY
$45,358 annually

Cornell University houses one of the largest library collections in the world. Currently, they are the recipients of several grants that make this one of the most technologically advanced library systems. Along with several library branches that include standards such as health sciences, engineering and the humanities, they also have unique libraries. Odd libraries that you only find en masse at Cornell are the Hotel Library, Africana Library, Ornithology Library and The Geneva Experiment Library.


300 Day Hall
Ithaca, NY 14853
(607) 255-2000

Duke University

Durham, NC
$45,376 annually

Duke University has several awards under their belt, and offers 24-hour service at two of their branches on campus. They also have collections of notoriety including the Gothic Reading Room and displays such as the Botanical Treasures from Duke’s Hidden Library. Duke libraries with a notable reputation are the Pearse Marine Lab Memorial Library, the Bostock Library, and the David Rubenstein Rare Book and Manuscript Library.


103 Allen Bldg
Durham, NC 27708
(919) 684-8111

Stanford University

Stanford, CA
$43,683 annually

Stanford University has a diverse set of library facilities including the Math and Statistics Library, the Herbert Hoover Archives, and the wildly popular Archive of Recorded Sound. As a university that frequently publishes, one of the benefits of their facilities for students is Stanford’s extensive research support staff.


Stanford, CA 94305
(650) 723-2300

U.S. Military Academy At West Point

West Point, NY

The U.S. Military Academy at West Point is a premiere library facility in many subjects, and it has a special focus on military document collections. Along with standard digitalized university library access, students are also allowed to use special collections. For example, the Sylvanus Thayer Collection is an archive found exclusively in West Point libraries.


646 Swift Rd (ATTN: MASG)
West Point, NY 10996-1905
(845) 938-4011

Emory University

Atlanta, GA
$44,008 annually

Emory University has a state-of-the-art digitized library system with a number of branches on campus. Popular branches include the Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library, Goizueta Business Library, Robert W. Woodruff Library, and the Oxford College Library. Other notable points of interest are the Pitts Theology Library, Emory Women Writers Resource Project, and the Trans-Atlantic Slave Trade Database.


408 Administration Building, 201 Dowman Drive
Atlanta, GA 30322
(404) 727-6123

Yale University

New Haven, CT
$44,000 annually

Yale University is a university well-known for its publications. This solid academic research is fully supported by its library system, and students reap the benefits. While most major research universities boast about 25 branches or less, there are over 50 special libraries and collections at Yale. Facilities of notoriety include the Babylonian Collection, Astronomy Library, the Fortunoff Video Archive for Holocaust Testimonies, and the Benjamin Franklin Collection.


Woodbridge Hall
New Haven, CT 06520
(203) 432-4771

Boston College

Chestnut Hill, MA
$44,880 annually

Boston College leads the nation in education, and also has a library system that students adore. In addition to all the basics, special libraries at this campus include the Irish Music Center and the Irish Music Archives at the John J. Burns Library. Other notable institutions are the Theology and Ministry Library and the Weston Observatory Houses.


140 Commonwealth Avenue
Chestnut Hill, MA 02467
(617) 552-8000

University of Chicago

Chicago, IL
$47,514 annually

University of Chicago libraries are often featured in news articles due to the popular Chicago Jazz Archives. For students, they can access information in special collections through the five main campus library branches including the D'Angelo Law Library, Eckhart, Regenstein, Mansueto, and SSA. This library system is actively engaged in popular culture and has recently hosted events focused on zines. They also have digitized many popular rare works such as Walt Whitman’s, “The Bible as Poetry.”


5801 S Ellis Ave
Chicago, IL 60637
(773) 702-1234

Baylor University

Waco, TX
$35,972 annually

Baylor University allows students to access its facilities 24-hours a day, and provides them with a fully a digitized computer accessible system. This focus on technology includes Baylor’s exclusive archive collections such as the Institute for Oral History. Other unique things about this library system are the extensive JFK archives, the Southern Baptist Annuals Collection, the Crouch Fine Arts Library’s Collection of American Popular Sheet Music, and the Black Gospel Music Restoration Project found in the Royce-Darden Collection.


500 Speight Ave.
Waco, TX 76798
(254) 710-1011

Rhode Island School of Design

Providence, RI
$42,932 annually

The Rhode Island School of Design centralizes its media and research-related resources at the Fleet Library. Students attending this school will have access to art-related academic resources such as the Ruth Laxson Artist Book Archive and the RISD Visual Resources Library. With over 12,000 pieces of rare printed media, the Special Collections section of the Fleet Library also has ephemera such as the Jack Lenor Larsen Collection of Textile Swatches and the Stanley Moss Collection of Pop-up Books.


2 College St
Providence, RI 02903-2784
(401) 454-6100

Middlebury College

Middlebury, VT
$45,314 annually

Middlebury College has a strong library system with four main branches. Students can enjoy the same benefits found at major universities such as access to computers and a digitized collection of library resources. In addition to the basic services, there are also five special collections including the Helen Hartness Flanders Ballad Collection and the Julian W. Abernethy Collection of American Literature.


Old Chapel
Middlebury, VT 05753
(802) 443-5000

Johns Hopkins University

Baltimore, MD
$45,470 annually

Johns Hopkins University is one of the top medical research institutions in the world, and the library system at their campus reflects this history. While their system is centered around the Sheridan Libraries, they also have facilities that are focused on music, earth sciences, and international affairs.


3400 N Charles St, Mason Hall
Baltimore, MD 21218-2688
(410) 516-8000

Vassar College

Poughkeepsie, NY
$47,890 annually

Vassar College is situated in Poughkeepsie, New York, and touts some of the finest programming in the current college library scene. In addition to their fully digitized and computer accessible main library, Vassar also has a separate building for the art, digital, and music libraries. One special aspect of their library system is the Vassar College Rare Book Collection.


124 Raymond Ave
Poughkeepsie, NY 12604
(845) 437-7000

University of Wisconsin - Madison

Madison, WI
$10,403 in state;
$26,653 out of state

The University of Wisconsin — Madison library system has a student-friendly website with a wealth of resources. In addition to their main campus branch, they have over 30 special reading rooms, collections, and learning support centers. Unique facilities include the American Indian Studies Library, the Hasler Laboratory of Limnology, the Wisconsin Water Library, and the Schwerdtfeger Space Sciences Library.


500 Lincoln Dr
Madison, WI 53706-1380
(608) 262-1234

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Champaign, IL
$14,750 in state;
$29,132 out of state

The University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign is on the map for its academic research and publishing. This means that students have every opportunity to access top-ranking resource tools through the university’s libraries. Other points of interest at this library include the Gaming Collection, the Illinois History and Abraham Lincoln Collections, and the Sousa Archives and Center for American Music.


601 E John Street
Champaign, IL 61820-5711
(217) 333-1000

Indiana University - Bloomington

Bloomington, IN
$10,209 in state;
$32,350 out of state

Indiana University Bloomington is popular in the academic world for arts and humanities research. Adding to this is a modern library facility designed with the student in mind. Although many of the 30 library branches and special collections focus on common subjects, many are rare. For instance, this library system includes the Optometry Library, the GLBT Library, and Archives of African American Music and Culture.


107 South Indiana Ave.
Bloomington, IN 47405-7000
(812) 855-4848

Ohio State University

Columbus, OH
$10,037 in state;
$25,757 out of state

Ohio State University — Columbus is a prestigious academic focal point for the entire state. Producing some of the finest research in the country, the library staff at this university promotes a publishing spirit with a fully digitized set of resources. In their 15 branch libraries, there are a wide range of special collections including the Early Modern Printed Book archive and the Billy Ireland Cartoon Library and Museum.


190 N. Oval Mall
Columbus, OH 43210
(292) 646-8600

University of Arizona

Tucson, AZ
$10,391 in state;
$27,383 out of state

The University of Arizona has a fully funded library system with an impressive list of resources for students. While most activities are centralized around the main library, there are other branches on the campus. Distinctive offerings of this campus’ library are the Center for Creative Photography, the Middle East Collection, and the East Asian Studies Collection.


1401 E University
Tucson, AZ 85721-0066
(520) 621-2211

University of Virginia

Charlottesville, VA
$12,668 in state;
$40,054 out of state

The University of Virginia impresses with a wide variety of options for their students. Fully digitized, the library resources are found in over 10 different branches to provide students with as much computer access as possible. What makes this library system exclusive is the contributions of the founder, President Thomas Jefferson. Along with their large collection of Jefferson-related manuscripts, this is also a U.S. federal regional depository with over three million pieces of archival material.


1827 University Avenue
Charlottesville, VA 22903-2628
(434) 924-0311

University of Oklahoma

Norman, OK
$8,916 in state;
$21,105 out of state

The University of Oklahoma prides itself on having one of the best library systems in the region. Expectations from students are met through resources such as digital journals, databases and access to computers. They also have five fully staffed branches and several special collections that help students meet their research needs.


660 Parrington Oval
Norman, OK 73019-3072
(405) 325-0311

Northwestern University

Evanston, IL
$45,527 annually

Northwestern University is one of the most sought after universities in the country. Along with that, they have revered academic library resources that undergraduate students enjoy as much as their professors. In conjunction with the best electronic journals and databases, they also have several specialized libraries and rare collections.


633 Clark St
Evanston, IL 60208
(847) 491-3741

University of Iowa

Iowa City, IA
$8,061 in state;
$26,931 out of state

The University of Iowa library system has exceptional features that engage their students. This includes a long list of digitize resources and computer access for students. Started in 1855, the current library system has over 50 different specialized collection management librarians. Included in the areas of expertise are Brazilian Literature, Criminology, French Literature, and Military Science.


101 Jessup Hall
Iowa City, IA 52242-1316
(319) 335-3500

Arizona State University

Tempe, AZ
$9,861 in state;
$23,654 out of state

Arizona State University is a sought-after library resource for professionals and students alike. Open 24-hours during finals, the Hayden Library is the main focus of the campus. Two of the internationally acclaimed special collections from this library are the Labriola National American Indian Data Center and the Architecture and Environmental Design Library.


University Drive and Mill Avenue
Tempe, AZ 85287
(480) 965-9011

University of Georgia

Athens, GA
$10,262 in state;
$28,472 out of state

The University of Georgia allows students to access millions of digital resources through their esteemed library system. While they are focused on two main branches, they provide an exhaustive list of resources for initiating research. They also have over 100,000 rare books and six million original documents related to the history of Georgia.


Administration Building
Athens, GA 30602
(706) 542-3000

University of Kansas

Lawrence, KS
$10,107 in state;
$24,873 out of state

The University of Kansas has a wealth of opportunities for their students, and this includes their digitized libraries. With nine branches throughout campus, students can use the computers to easily conduct all of their undergraduate research projects. One aspect that differentiates this library system from others is a long list of expert subject librarians.


Strong Hall, 1450 Jayhawk Blvd, Room 230
Lawrence, KS 66045
(785) 864-2700

Washington University in St Louis

Saint Louis, MO
$44,841 annually

Washington University in St. Louis offers more to their students than top-rated professors. To back up this academic environment, their Olin Library branch is open 24-hours a day. Along with the high-tech facilities, special resources that are inviting to students are the Modern Graphic History Library and the Film and Media Archive.


One Brookings Drive
Saint Louis, MO 63130-4899
(314) 935-5000

North Carolina State University

Raleigh, NC
$8,206 in state;
$21,661 out of state

Raleigh engages students in as many ways as possible, and this includes their prestigious library system. One of the key features is that they have more than one branch that has 24-hour service for students. Another exceptional resource that students can access is the special manuscript collection that has a large number of agriculture and architecture pieces.


2101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27695-7001
(919) 515-2011

University of Colorado - Boulder

Boulder, CO
$10,347 in state;
$32,115 out of state

The University of Colorado, Boulder has a fully digitized library system with a webpage that has the student in mind. On campus, students can access six different branches, but the Norlin Library is open 24-hours a day. Along with a helpful staff, this library has an emphasis on providing research assistance to undergraduate students.


Regent Drive at Broadway
Boulder, CO 80309-0017
(303) 492-1411

University of Maryland - College Park

College Park, MD
$6,552 in state;
$12,336 out of state

The University of Maryland, College Park creates a foundation for their students’ education with their extensive library resources. With eight branches in total, students are able to be fully independent and access library staff as necessary. Some of the exceptional offerings from this library system include the International Piano Archives and special performing arts collections.


College Park, MD 20742
(301) 405-1000

University of Rochester

Rochester, NY
$45,372 annually

The University of Rochester is a top university for undergraduates for many reasons, and their library resources are one of them. Centered around the 24-hour Gleason Library, there are about 10 other branches associated with this campus. All of them offer computer facilities and a fully digitized set of academic journal resources.


Wilson Blvd. - Wallis Hall
Rochester, NY 14627-0011
(585) 275-3221

University of Florida

Gainesville, FL
$6,263 in state;
$28,541 out of state

The University of Florida does not leave students lacking in the library resources department. Centralized around the 24-hour West Library main campus branch, there are nine other facilities that students can use for completing their homework. Specialized media resources found at these libraries include the Judaica Library, Architecture and Fine Arts Library, and the Latin American Collection.


Gainesville, FL 32611
(352) 392-3261

University of Southern California

Los Angeles, CA
$46,298 annually

The University of Southern California meets students’ needs with a fully digitized set of resources that promote academic research. Along with a user-friendly website, students can use the computer resources at any of the 10 campus library facilities. Aspects of this library system that drawn national notoriety are the East Asia, Cinematic Arts, and ONE National Gay and Lesbian archives.


University Park
Los Angeles, CA 90089
(213) 740-2311

University of South Carolina - Columbia

Columbia, SC
$10,816 in state;
$28,528 out of state

The University of South Carolina — Columbia focuses most of their attention on the Thomas Cooper Central Library, but has far more to offer students than this. For example, special collections can be found at all seven campus library branches. One of the acclaimed aspects of this university library system is its large collection of oral histories that are available in digital form.


Columbia, SC 29208
(803) 777-7000

University of California - Berkeley

Berkeley, CA
$12,864 in state;
$35,742 out of state

The University of California, Berkeley has the type of obscure degrees that top-ranking European universities commonly offer. With this in mind, their library system has unique contributions that are available to students. To reinforce the point, they set themselves apart from other university library systems by providing online library support through web chat, phone, and e-mail.


200 California Hall
Berkeley, CA 94720
(510) 642-6000

University of California - Los Angeles

Los Angeles, CA
$12,697 in state;
$35,575 out of state

The University of California — Los Angeles is known for more than been surrounded by Hollywood celebrities. Instead, it has a first-rate library that provides students with access to special collections and all of the undergraduate resources they will need for completing coursework. This library also has a special mission to provide all patrons with accessibility to reference materials through their expert staff.


405 Hilgard Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90095-1405
(310) 825-4321

Information & Data

Graduating high school seniors and adults who are planning to go back to college know how difficult it is to make the big decision: which college to attend. The college a person graduates from will mold their professional network, affect their ability to land a job, and possibly even play a part in the introducing them to the person they marry and more. The bottom line is that college choice matters. So how does a person go about making this decision? Of course they should start with things like career goals, what they wish to major in, finances, and location, but another lesser known thing to think about is the college library. Just a quick walk through a college’s library will give prospective students a glimpse into the inner workings of the college’s student body. The library is where many students choose to study and is the go-to source for assistance, research, and more. Here are some reasons why a college’s library is so important.

Help from Real People

Professors are busy, teacher’s assistants are busy – sometimes college students feel like they’re all alone in their studies, but it doesn’t have to be like this. The best college libraries in the country staff highly educated and skilled librarians to help students find exactly the information they are looking for – which ranges from research for school assignments to life advice and beyond. College librarians can also help with questions about the college in general, career preparation, and resources for career planning.


Every person is looking for a different vibe from the college they attend. Some people want parties while others prefer the idea of late nights sipping wine and discussing 17th century Russian literature. The library is a great place to tap into the academic vibe of the college a prospective student is considering attending. Is there lots of open study area? Are cozy chairs tucked in among the books for stealing away into a novel or particularly compelling scientific research paper? Students should consider what college atmosphere they are looking for and find a college library that reflects this.

Digital Resources

Books are great, but these days it’s all about online research and learning. Access to digital libraries, media sources, and research databases are expensive, but college students get to enjoy these references for free for as long as they are students. Finding a college that offers extensive access to the best digital resources is a great sign that they’re offering a quality education.