About Crossett Library

Page Contents


Guiding Principles

  • Teaching the knowledge needed to create intentional inquiries
  • Promoting opportunities to experience the joy of serendipitous discovery
  • Building collections and services in collaboration with the community
  • Creating environments for solitary contemplation and gregarious collaboration
  • Facilitating the appreciation and celebration of books
  • Engaging technologies that enhance services and the collection

Diversity and Inclusion

Crossett Library’s commitment to the College’s approach to inclusion, equity, and pluralism—both as fields of inquiry and of practice—is to prioritize flexible thought and to invite the examination of access, value, and power. The library strives to be both a mirror and a window for our community, in that members of our community can see themselves reflected in the collections, resources, and services of the library and gain insight into, and knowledge about, the experiences of others.

History and Architecture

In 1959, the College opened the Edward Clark Crossett Library, designed by acclaimed architect Pietro Belluschi. The building was remarkable in that it was utterly modern-light and airy, with exterior lighting that lent the building a luminous nighttime glow-while still acknowledging the College's existing colonial architecture and intimate size. In an article praising the new library, Architectural Forum said:

"In trying to bring the library into harmony with its colonial surroundings, the architects used three devices: first, they sited the building so that it fitted naturally into the pattern of rectangular spaces formed by the existing dormitories....Second, they used materials and details that recalled those of existing structures-white painted wood siding, horizontal wood louvers that relate to the clapboard patterns on the campus, vertical finds around the porch that recall colonial pilasters, brick and stone walls and paving that resemble similar details in neighboring structures. And, finally, the architects kept down the scale of the library so as to make it conform to the scale of the dormitories. This was done, partly, by sinking most of the bottom floor into the ground and making the building seem only two stories high, and partly by refining the details of wood trim and siding to maintain interest when the building is seen at close quarters. Bennington's President William Fels said of the new library: 'This is a warm, pleasant building. It doesn't intrude. The campus has gathered around it.' This was high praise indeed, but a leading library expert matched it, saying flatly that 'this is the best undergraduate library of its size in the country."

Crossett Library went on to win the 1963 Honor Award for library design, given jointly by the American Institute of Architects, the American Library Association and the National Book Committee, Inc.

Statement on Harmful Language

Crossett Library’s mission is to provide open and transparent access to information for the Bennington College community. We are actively digitizing our archive to make historical resources more accessible, and we have been updating our terminology across our library. Our goal is to provide information for all of the community in a respectful manner and our commitment extends to using terminology that respects the preferences of the communities we describe.

We understand that some of our archival documents may contain terms or images that are offensive, racist, exclusionary, or reflect historical biases, as will some of the books and materials in our collections. While we adhere to archival best practices of maintaining the language of the original creators for accuracy, our primary goal is to provide transparency regarding the origins of the narrative and the individuals who contributed to it.

Our aim is to ensure that all members of the community can access and engage with the information in these collections, gaining insight into the beliefs and perspectives present at the time of their creation. Additionally, we encourage and welcome contributions from students and alumni to help reshape and expand our narrative. If you don't find your story represented in the collections , please know that you are a vital part of the Bennington story. Your voice and experiences matter! We invite you to contribute your primary source materials to our archives (such as photographs, posters and pamphlets, and other materials related to your student experience) to help us bridge gaps in our narrative so that your unique place in the broader context of the Bennington College community is preserved. We continue to invite book recommendations as well.

Please feel free to contact us at library@bennington.edu to suggest changes, ask questions, or share your thoughts. Your input is essential in our ongoing efforts to maintain an inclusive and evolving repository of knowledge.


Crossett Library accepts donations of books and other materials that support the spirit of inquiry and intellectual growth at Bennington College. Over the years, our library’s collections have been enhanced greatly through the generosity and kindness of friends. Your book donation to Crossett Library helps us support the research and teaching efforts of our faculty, enhance the learning experience of our students, and more fully develop our library resources for future Bennington scholars. We are grateful to all who consider our library as a home for your books and other relevant donations.

Because of the limits of physical space and other restrictions, we may not be able to accept all donated materials. For example, we may not be able to accept periodicals, specialized collections, materials in poor condition, or items which would be duplicative of our existing holdings. In some cases, we may agree to accept items that we cannot use, for the benefit of selling them through auction or Better World Books, a used book seller committed to improving literacy around the world.

When Crossett Library accepts a gift, Bennington College becomes the owner of that material upon receipt and, as such, reserves the right to determine its placement, cataloging particulars, retention, and other considerations related to its use, maintenance, or removal.

At the request of the donor, a book plate with appropriate wording may be added to the item(s) in question.

If you are interested in donating materials to the Library, please send an e-mail to library@bennington.edu. Please contact us prior to delivering materials to the Library. For large collections, the Library may request a list of items for review before accepting any materials.

In accordance with United States tax regulations, the Library is not permitted to make appraisals of gifts. Gift acknowledgement letters can be created upon request; this letter will include a brief description and an exact count of items donated, but will not list each item nor give an appraisal. If a donor requires a valuation of the materials for IRS reporting purposes, it is the responsibility of the donor to arrange for an independent appraisal by a qualified professional prior to the donation and to keep records of the items donated and their value.

Art on Display

See our guide to works of art on display in Crossett Library.