Our Collections

Archives and Special Collections

Located on the east side of second level of the library (facing Kirk Residence Hall) next to the library office, the Archives/Rare Books Rooms are where college historical documents and materials that are rarer in nature are kept. These areas are available by appointment only. You may read more information on the Archives Home page

Film, Video, DVD Collection

The Library maintains a collection of more than 9,000 film and video titles. We also provide streaming videos through a variety of vendors including Kanopy, Films on Demand, Alexander Street Press, and Swank. View our list of streaming resources.

We also provide streaming videos through Kanopy and Films on Demand.

In addition, many titles that we do not own can be requested via interlibrary loan. For questions, please contact us.


General Stacks

By far the largest collection in the library is the general collection, or Mac Stacks. The general collection is located on the lower level, third and fourth levels. Materials are arranged by Library of Congress call numbers (using both letters and numbers) beginning with the A’s on the north end of fourth level to the Z’s on the south end of the third level. Here is the general breakdown of what call numbers can be found on which level:

Level 4 – call numbers beginning with A-KC
Level 3 – call numbers beginning with KD – Z, Oversized
Lower Level – call numbers Art N1-NX, Music M1-MT, Bound Periodicals

Great Scots

The Great Scots collection is located in the Harmon Room on the main floor of the library. It celebrates the scholarly and creative works produced by Macalester faculty, students, staff, and alumni. The collection includes the most recent five years of publications. The titles migrate to the stacks after they have been on display for five years.


For information on available image collections, please see our list of databases for images or the Library Guide for Art History.

Microfilm Collection

To save on space and to better preserve some materials, they have been converted to microfilm or microfiche. These materials include newspapers like the NY Times and government materials like older census records. These materials are located on the Lower Level. Microform equipment is located nearby for use with these materials.

New Books – list of new arrivals

New titles can be found on the shelving on the back wall of Level 1.


The Periodicals collection includes the many magazines, scholarly journals, and newspapers to which our library subscribes. This collection can actually be found in two different locations: newer issues are kept on the south end of the main level; and older issues are kept on the lower level of the library. In both cases, they are arranged in alphabetical order by title. Bound periodicals now circulate and may be checked out by library users.

The Library also provides access to electronic subscription journals, magazines, newspapers, etc. Online versions can be found and/or accessed via WorldCat Discovery or individual research databases on the Research Databases page.

New York Times Subscriptions

Macalester College has an institutional subscription to the New York Times, courtesy of MCSG. Follow our instructions to activate your digital subscription to the NYT.


Some materials are just physically too large to fit on the regular shelving. These materials are kept on special shelving located at the end of the general collection on the third level.

Popular Reading

Located in the north alcove on the first floor, the Popular Reading Collection includes newly purchased materials and items that are more popular in nature. This collection is where you’d find that latest suspense novel or controversial new nonfiction title that everyone is talking about.

Rare Books

Collections in the Rare Books Room in the Library include materials spanning from the 13th century to the present, including works that are rare, valuable, unique, or that require special handling. For more information, please see the Rare Books page.


The Reference collection is located on the main level of the library near the service desk. It includes information sources such as encyclopedias, almanacs, atlases and dictionaries that are frequently used by reference librarians in assisting library users. Generally speaking, these materials cannot be checked out by library users and must be used in the building.


The Reserves collection is located behind the service desk and includes high use materials that have been identified by faculty as being needed by a class. In collaboration with Macalester College Student Government (MCSG) the library maintains a textbook reserve program which offers limited copies of select textbooks for short term checkout.

Reserves Home

Sound Recordings

The library’s sound recordings are located in the south reading room on the first floor. The library also provides online music services. See our list of music resources.

Wellness Collection

Located on level one near the entrance to the library and across from the service desk, the Wellness collection aims to support wellness efforts for the entire Macalester community. Items in this collection cover topics such as physical fitness, stress management, diet, meal planning, mental health, aging, and caregiving.


The Wood Collection is our library’s children’s book collection and is located on the second level of the library. The Wood Collection includes all of the Caldecott Medal Winners and all the Newberry Medal winners as well as a wide selection of other children’s book titles. Wood Collection books may be checked out.