Visiting the George A. Smathers Libraries
- Centrally located with lots of study spaces, including group study rooms for reservation
- Collections related to the humanities and social sciences, with lots of fiction available for fun too
- Moving book stacks at the push of a button
- Neat spaces, like the One Button Studio and Meditation and Prayer Room
- Beautiful views of campus
- One of the main hubs of undergrad student life!
Meet Up at Library West
Library West (also nicknamed by students as “Club West,” “Lib West,” or just “West“) is the humanities and social sciences library. Like all of the libraries in this guide, it is open to students of all majors; the collections, resources, and resident librarians are simply specific to the humanities and social sciences.
Lib West is the second largest library at UF with a capacity of about 1,600 people. In addition to finding students here doing classwork and studying for their exams, this library is a hub of undergraduate student life. On the loud floors, you’ll find students chatting and hanging out between classes over coffee. On the quiet floors, you’ll find people really focusing to get work done.
Library West is known for its variety of study spaces and its beautiful location between the Plaza of the Americas and Midtown.
Don’t Miss West’s Programming Events
Library West hosts lots of special events throughout the school year, especially during finals week. These include giving out coffee and donuts, inviting local therapy dogs to visit, hosting yoga classes, and arranging a “make your own healthy snack bag.”
You’ll also find pop-up events, giveaways, and book displays related to cultural observances, like Black History Month, and library topics, like Banned Books Week.
One especially cool event is the annual HalloWest! Library West workers are known to do internal trick-or-treating around Halloween. You don’t even have to dress up — the library workers are usually in costume and they hand out candy to students.
If you spot a pop-up table on the main floor or outside the front doors, stop by to get some special treats. Keep your eye out on the library social media channels to stay up to date with any events going on.
(Photographs in the above gallery by Lisa Campbell)
Study Spaces, Floor by Floor
Library West has a study space for everyone. There are six floors, but only four are available for undergraduate student use. The fifth floor has offices and employee spaces; the sixth floor is restricted to just graduate students. There are gendered restrooms and water fountains on all floors, and a gender-inclusive restroom on the second floor.
Read on for a floor-by-floor breakdown of the resources and study spaces available in West: every floor has a different vibe!
This floor can be confusing at first to access because it is the same floor as the ground-level entrance with the Starbucks, but you can’t enter the study areas from there. In order to access the space, you have to first go up to the second floor from the main entrance. Once on the second floor, take one of the elevators or stairwells in the corner of the floor down to the first floor, marked with a star.
On the first floor, you’ll find:
- Tables and seating for solo and collaborative study
- Fitness bike desks near the back and side walls
- Big windows near the back with a view of University Avenue
- General Collection books and the Judaica Collection
- Computers, printers, and scanners
- One Button Studio and Meditation and Prayer Room — see below for more information!
This floor is the most collaborative in nature. Sounds from the Starbucks filter up, and it’s a great place to meet with friends or classmates. The second floor is also where the majority of the study rooms are, although the third and fourth floors also have some.
Take the escalator at the main entrance up to this floor, which includes:
- The main Service Desk, where you can check out items and ask for help with library services
- The Reference Desk, where you can walk up and ask a librarian for research assistance
- Study rooms available for reservation online
- Personal proctor rooms for online test-taking
- Pro Tip: Reserve these online exam rooms in advance — they fill up fast!
- Computers (both PC workstations and six Macs), printers, and scanners
- More fitness bike desks facing the Plaza of the Americas
- The beautiful New Books Wall and book displays
- General Collection shelves and the DVD collection
- An office supplies vending machine
- Gorgeous views and plenty of places to sit and study!
The third floor of Library West also has both solo and collaborative spaces, though it is quieter than the second floor. It has windows around the entire perimeter and a generally open floor plan, creating a light and airy environment.
On the third floor you will find:
- Physical copies of recent local and major newspapers
- The Accessibility Studio (request access through the DRC)
- Periodical and microform collections
- Reference and oversized books collections
- Plenty of seating!
This is the quietest floor, so only go up there for quiet, individual study.
This floor mostly consists of administrative offices and solo seating scattered throughout the floor. You’ll also find small, locked cubicles reserved for graduate students who are writing their dissertation, which are inaccessible to undergrads.
Grab a seat up on the fourth floor if you really need to focus and get away from the busy, social floors below.
Only at Lib West: Unique Spaces
In addition to the general study areas in Library West, there are also quite a few unique spaces that undergraduate students can use.
One Button Studio
This is a video recording studio where, with the press of one button, you can have access to a green screen, professional lighting, and a professional recording. All you need to bring is a flash drive to save the final product (as well as any props you wish to use)!
This space is perfect for filming projects that require a more professional look, and it is super easy to use. The One Button Studio is commonly used for recording final presentations for courses, as well as for making videos just for fun.
The studio can be reserved in advance online. Follow the link below to reserve the space and get started!
Meditation and Prayer Room
This room is available by checking out a key at the main Service Desk on the second floor and can be used by up to four people at a time for a period of half an hour.
If you need a quiet place for prayer, meditation, and mindfulness, this space is always open to you.
Students registered with the Disability Resource Center (DRC) on campus can request access to the Accessibility Studio at Library West. Once your Gator1 ID is activated, you’ll be able to swipe your card to enter the studio. This space features assistive technologies (including screen readers), adjustable large monitors, a trackball mouse, large keys keyboards, and more.
You can find additional information about accessibility throughout the George A. Smathers Libraries on the Accessibility Services Page.
Collections & Technology
Library West’s collections include not just humanities and social sciences books and resources, but materials ranging from a DVD collection to a large and curated Jewish Studies collection. Compared to other areas of study, many humanities students prefer using physical books. That’s why Lib West has so many print materials.
Students from any major are welcome to explore these collections, especially the fun stuff! The librarians will always encourage you to check out items for your own curiosity or pleasure reading; you don’t need to be working on a research project to use the collections.
DVDs: Library West has a huge DVD collection, including both academic and non-academic films that are unavailable on streaming services. I was thrilled to learn that they have a DVD copy of Legally Blonde!
Fiction: Library West has a fiction collection including novels, manga, and graphic novels that you can check out and read for fun.
General Collection: Library West’s general collection consists of books and journals on all of the topics listed in the areas of study. These are mostly found on the first and second floors.
Judaica Collection: UF has a carefully curated Jewish studies collection that has been built over several decades: the Isser and Rae Price Library of Judaica Collection. The rare and valuable materials of this collection are in Smathers Library, but the mainstream ones that are available for checkout can be found in West.
Non-English Language Materials: West holds the materials for the foreign language areas of study if you want to read books in a variety of languages.
Other Cool Stuff: Library West has cookbooks, constantly rotating displays of new books, and historical newspapers on microfilm (a type of microform). I found it interesting to learn that because so many newspapers from the past have yet to be digitized, researchers often have to use microfilm to read old newspapers.
Technology: Like Marston, Library West also offers a variety of circulating technology to check out. These include podcasting equipment, cameras, recorders, smart pens, DVD players, chargers, and more. A full list of these materials, as well as information about how to reserve and check them out, can be found on the Take Home Equipment website.
Have you ever seen moving shelves before? Library West’s moving stacks are iconic. They are compact in order to save space and fit more books: just press a button to move them and access the aisle you need. Scan the QR code found on the shelves throughout Library West for on the spot instructions.
Doing research for your classes at Library West is easier than you think. Because it is the humanities and social sciences library, students taking classes in these fields will most often use Lib West for their research and class projects.
Library West, like all the libraries, has subject librarians for every area of study you would need. The list of subjects covered in Library West can be found below, and you can find the contact information for subject librarians online. You can use physical collections or online resources like databases.
If in doubt, just walk up to the Reference Help Desk in West to ask for research assistance!
Areas of study covered by Library West:
- African American Studies
- American Indian and Indigenous Studies
- Arabic Studies
- Arts in Medicine
- Asian Studies
- Digital Humanities
- English and American Literature
- European Studies
- Fiction in Library West
- Film Studies
- First-Year Writing
- Folklore Studies
- French and Francophone Studies
- German Studies
- Government Documents
- History (General)
- Italian Studies
- Library Research (Introduction)
- Mass Communication
- Political Science
- Portuguese Studies
- Public Relations
- Slavic Studies
- Spanish Studies
- Telecommunications and Broadcasting
- Tourism and Recreation
- Women’s and Gender Studies
“At Library West, we pride ourselves on having the perfect study spot for every type of learner.”
– April Hines, Journalism Librarian
The general collection of a library refers to items available on the shelves to check out and take home. At UF, most general collection items can be checked out by undergraduate students for eight weeks.
Study rooms are individual rooms that groups of students can use for study sessions and team projects. Most of the study rooms in the Libraries can be reserved online.
The service desk is the place where the magic happens. Check out items, ask questions about research, and get help with whatever you need from the friendly library workers at the main desk. Also called the “circulation desk.”
Check out (also called a “loan”) describes when you borrow materials from the library. UF undergraduate students can borrow most items for up to eight weeks.
A subject librarian (or "subject/area specialist") is a librarian who has expertise in a particular subject, discipline, or topic. Every major at UF has a subject librarian who is uniquely qualified to help them with their research.
A periodical is a type of publication that comes out regularly in issues, such as a newspaper, magazine, or academic journal. They might be scholarly or general resources, depending on the intended audience.
Microform are small copies of printed materials (such as newspapers, maps, etc.) that allow for large amounts of materials to be stored in a small amount of physical space. Microform is less commonly made now, but UF holds some materials in microform.
Gator1 is the student identification card issued to all UF students.
In addition to books, the libraries at UF also have nontraditional materials available to borrow, including lots of technology. The circulating technology collection includes things like portable 3D printers, virtual reality headsets, sewing machines, tools, podcasting microphones, 360° cameras, and more.
Stacks are the shelving the library uses to hold materials. Library West has moving stacks!
Scholarly databases are used to search for and locate specific journal articles, book chapters, newspaper articles, and more. There are many databases available through the Libraries, and many of them are especially tailored to different majors. Unlike Google or Google Scholar, databases have powerful filtering tools to narrow down your search.