The Chapin Library is a dedicated rare books and manuscripts collection at Williams College, conceived in 1915 and established by a deed of gift in 1923. Since 2016 it has been part of the Special Collections Department of the Williams Libraries. Its mission is to support instruction and research at the College by acquiring, organizing, cataloging, securing, and preserving significant primary source materials in the arts and sciences, which are made available to members of the College community under the guidance of expert staff. Because of the international importance of its holdings, the Chapin Library also serves as a resource for scholars outside of the College, for local elementary and high school students, and for the general public. In fulfilling this mission, the Chapin Library seeks:
To acquire, by gift or purchase, rare books, manuscripts, historical prints, and other materials which document civilization and complement the academic program of the College.
To maintain and improve the Library’s core collections, while developing new subject areas in response to the evolving general body of knowledge and the changing curriculum of the College.
To organize and document the Library’s holdings in a secure, efficient, and professional manner.
To provide to all readers free access to the Library’s resources, with expert and friendly guidance in their use, in comfortable, inspiring, and technologically current surroundings.
To provide an inquiry service – in person, or by mail, telephone, or e-mail – of consistently high quality.
To encourage the use of the Chapin Library by individuals and class groups.
To instruct students, faculty, and others in the skills and techniques needed for the use of special collections materials.
To exploit and publicize the Library’s collections by all appropriate methods, including printed and electronic catalogs, finding aids, web pages, exhibitions, publications, lectures, courses, and seminars.
To secure and preserve the Library’s holdings so that they will be available to future as well as present generations of readers, balancing security and preservation against the active use of the collections.
To cooperate closely with other administrative departments at Williams, and with the academic departments of the College, to promote learning and scholarship.