Visiting the George A. Smathers Libraries

11 Architecture & Fine Arts Library (AFA)

A brick building with white columns and long windows. Text below: George A. Smathers Libraries, Architecture and Fine Arts Library

Architecture & Fine Arts Library (AFA) at a Glance

  • The most interesting desks on campus — the double decker carrels!
  • Collections of art books, sheet music, fabric samples, and more
  • Great place for quiet, individual study
  • Daytime hours only: stop by between classes
  • A calm and quiet respite from the bustle of campus

Get Creative at the Architecture & Fine Arts Library (AFA)

Founded in 1965, the Architecture & Fine Arts Library (also known as AFA) is one of the largest art libraries in the the southeast United States. This library is an intimate space with high ceilings, a unique design, and interesting features, such as the famous double-decker carrels and a piano keyboard right by the door.

The AFA Library can be sometimes hard to find as it is located in the heart of the Fine Arts Building A. Check out the map in this guide. The best way to find AFA is by walking east from Turlington Plaza until you reach the many food places near Little Hall; from there, it is just a matter of looking for the AFA sign on the south side of Stadium Road. Once Little Hall comes into view, the AFA library won’t be too far away. Inside Fine Arts A, head upstairs to the second floor to find the AFA Library.


Entrance to Architecture and Fine Arts Library
The north entrance to the Architecture and Fine Arts Library is inside the Fine Arts A building on the second floor.

You can also reach the AFA Library through its beautiful south entrance from the Fine Arts C building. The south side of AFA is connected to the Fine Arts C by an enclosed, indoor bridge between the buildings. With floor to ceiling windows and filled with sunlight, this bridge is a neat walkway to see on campus. The librarians at AFA love it!


Two images. One shows a glass, encased bridge connecting two buildings with trees and flowers beneath. The second is the view from inside the brige looking at a wooden entryway labeled "library"
An enclosed, indoor bridge connects the south entrance of AFA to the second floor of the Fine Arts C building.

A Variety of Quiet Study Spaces

The most iconic and popular feature of the AFA Library is the group of double-decker study carrels. These carrels can be best described as connected desks and tables that can serve as individual work spaces.

There is a top and bottom portion of each carrel, allowing for more room for students to study. The lower level desks almost feel like sensory deprivation rooms to limit distractions. Climbing up and sitting on the top portion of the carrel provides a great view of the library. You have to try them!


Two story grey structures wtih study desks on the bottom floor and top floors
Grab a seat on the lower or upper floor of the AFA iconic study carrels.
Picture of the AFA computer area
Computers, including PCs and Macs, are located behind the carrels.

In addition to the double-decker carrels, there are other obvious and hidden places to work in AFA. Near the carrels on the main floor, you can find large group tables and sections with individual tables. There are computers available for students to work on behind the carrels, which are connected to a printer. There are also individual desks scattered throughout the library, including on the upper floor where you can prep for your exams surrounded by the book stacks.

Remember, all of these spaces are areas where students must be quiet at all times! Because this library is exclusively for silent, individual study, the AFA Library is a great place to get some serious work done.

A char and desk facing a floor to ceiling window overlooking campus
Grab one of the individual study spots scattered throughout AFA.

You will not find group study rooms at AFA, but there are some large tables where friends can sit together to study individually in each other’s company. It is very common to find students working hard here during finals season. Students also hang out in the study spaces between classes to get work done away from the bustle of campus.

Resources and Collections

When it first opened, the AFA Library held about 20,000 volumes, but it has since expanded to hold more than 125,000 items and many other resources for students. The library holds the collections for the subjects of architecture, visual arts, art history, music, museology, interior design, and building construction. These collections are associated with the College of the Arts and the College of Design, Construction and Planning.

Although the resources housed in AFA may be catered to these specific majors, any student of any major is able to utilize the resources or spaces at the library. A fan of newspaper comic strips, for example? You can find books throughout history with comics at AFA.


Looking down a walkway between bookshelves filled with books
In the AFA stacks, you’ll find art books, comics, sheet music, interior design, and lots more.
A black shelf with colorful magazine covers
The periodical shelf at AFA always has eye-catching new volumes.

On the main floor of the library, students can also find an entire wall of periodicals for browsing. These magazines and journal issues feature a diverse array of subjects that students are free to look at for class projects or research, or just for fun.

The AFA Library hosts a variety of resources and materials, ranging from performing arts periodicals to the Oxford Music and Art online collection. The library has print collections that include dictionaries, encyclopedias, handbooks, and other sources that aid design, art, and music researchers. In addition to books and periodicals, there are also physical CDs and DVDs at hand for students to use. Many items can be accessed electronically, but there are a lot of unique physical items in AFA.

A standing partition covered in swatches of fabrics, plastics, and other materials
Feeling crafty? Get inspiration for your next project from the Materials Tower.

Some items in AFA are not available for checkout, but you can still see them! AFA has some rare art items in their own special collections, which can only be used inside the library. Here, you can view items including 16th-century imprints and a rare portfolio of Frank Lloyd Wright drawings, as well as multimedia items like music, photography, and videos.

One of the quirky resources available at AFA is the Materials Tower, which includes scraps of all different kinds of fabrics and materials that you can use for artistic inspiration. You’ll find this on the main floor behind the carrels.



Fun Fact: There is also a collection of board games at AFA that you can play between classes!


A standing book scanner and a very wide poster scanner
In addition to book scanners, AFA has a large-form scanner for things like posters and art pieces.

Like some of the other libraries on campus, AFA has a small collection of circulating technology. All students who visit the library are free to check out and use tech like projectors, video cameras, and iPads.

Some technologies unique to the AFA Library include DVD players, VHS players, and a 35mm film scanner. Because everything is digital now, DVD and VHS players can be hard to come by; these players really come in handy if you need to view an old movie for a project (or just for fun!). The 35mm film scanner can be used to digitize photo negatives from the art collection or from your family’s old photo box.

The AFA library also has KIC Scanners, which can be used to scan books or other materials that you can then email to yourself. Additionally, there is a large-form scanner that can be used for scanning digital copies of large art pieces and posters.

Research Assistance

If you are looking to do research in any of the subjects found in AFA, you can ask for help getting started at the Service Desk located by the AFA bridge entrance. Any time the library is open, these workers can get you started with using the library, finding resources, and more.

We also recommend booking time to speak with one of the subject specialist librarians to help you! They will have tailored advice for approaching your project. If you’re getting started on your own, the subject librarians at AFA have created multiple research guides found on the library’s website. Each research guide provides resources that are also approved by AFA.


Research Guides


The subject areas covered by the AFA Library Research Guides include the following:

Finally, reach out to the librarians at AFA to learn more about workshops, library orientations, and tours of the AFA Library so that you are equipped and ready to jump into your research projects. There are many services available that can make conducting research easier for students!


Two story grey structures wtih study desks on the bottom floor and top floors
Tell your friends to meet you at AFA — they’ll be just as impressed as we are!

Plan Your Visit to AFA Today

The AFA Library is a beautiful gem on campus where you can quietly study and be surrounded by a creative atmosphere. AFA is located in the Fine Arts Building A and is usually open during daytime business hours. The library also hosts pop-up performing arts events during the semester, so students should make sure to visit and take a look. Go check it out!


Message from an AFA Librarian

Need a peaceful place to study? The Architecture & Fine Arts Library is usually a quiet space and we have our signature double decker carrels available, open to all.

Ann Lindell, Librarian and Director of AFA



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Undergraduate Guide to the George A. Smathers Libraries Copyright © 2022 by Nabil M. Chowdhury; Ava K. Kaplan; Cassidy Smith; Omolola Suleiman; Alexandrea Glenn; and Michelle M. Nolan is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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