Purpose of Library

The Carleton College’s Laurence McKinley Gould Library exists primarily to serve the academic needs of Carleton College. The library also serves the needs of the St. Olaf College community through the Carleton-St. Olaf Consortium, Bridge. The library is available for use by the general public of the Northfield area although the Northfield Public Library has primary responsibility for serving this group.

The library’s collections and services have been developed to provide important resources that Carleton students will need in their course work, independent study, and comprehensive projects, and to supply faculty and staff with the bibliographic resources and the information they need for teaching and for administering the College.

As a secondary goal the library seeks to provide some of the more important resources faculty need to continue their personal research interests, and to provide a collection of general interest materials reflecting a wide range of topics.


Our patrons enjoy studying in different environments. Levels 1 and 2 are designated as quiet floors. Levels 3 and 4 are designated for collaborative group study. Throughout the library, courtesy and consideration should govern all conversation so as to avoid disturbing others. If a complaint is made, or if a member of the library staff judges any activity to be potentially disturbing, the person(s) involved may be asked to move to another area or to cease the activity.

Not Allowed in Library

The following items are not allowed to be brought into the library:

  • bicycles, unicycles, scooters, skateboards
  • rollerblades
  • animals (except for guide dogs for the blind)
  • alcohol
  • beverages in unacceptable containers
  • electrical appliances (i.e. coffeemakers, hotplates, heaters, etc.)
  • radio or sound system equipment without headsets
  • any toxic or potentially dangerous substance
  • all tobacco related products including e-cigarettes

Food & Beverage

  • Beverages: Bring beverages in covered containers and be careful to avoid spills.
  • Food: Food is allowed as long as it is not smelly or greasy. Pizza is not allowed.
  • Dispose of waste properly: Pack it in, pack it out: carry out any leftover food and non-disposable utensils or containers that you bring into the library. Place recyclables in recycling bins and non-recyclable garbage in trash cans. If you must dispose of beverages, pour liquids into the bathroom sink before recycling or throwing away the containers.
  • Leave the library in good condition: Leave library resources, furnishings, and equipment in the same or better condition as you found them. Report accidental spills to library staff as soon as possible.
  • Be considerate of other visitors: Respect your fellow library users and the next generation of library users.
  • Exceptions – Food and drink are prohibited in certain areas:
    • Food is not permitted on the first or second (lower) levels of the library.
    • Food is not permitted in any of the computer labs or at any of the computer workstations throughout the library.
    • Food is not permitted at public service desks, including the Research/IT desk, and circulation and reserves areas.
    • Food and drink are not permitted in Special Collections or Archives areas, including room 170.
    • Alcoholic beverages are not permitted in the library.
    • Smoking and chewing tobacco are not permitted in the library. Smoking is not permitted within 50 feet of the library entrance. A designated smoking area with an ashtray is located at the bottom of the steps west of the library’s main entrance, at the base of the Founders Court sculpture.
  • Goals – We established our food and drink guidelines with the following goals in mind:
    • Create an environment of mutual respect and to promote learning.
    • Preserve our library collections and protect our facility from pests and harmful molds.
    • Ensure the health and safety of all library users and a long life for library collections, furnishings, and equipment.
    • Promote recycling of appropriate food and drink packaging.
    • Respect our hard-working custodial staff by taking responsibility for our personal behavior.
    • Continue to direct library funds to purchasing library resources that support the curriculum, rather than to replacing materials, furnishings, and equipment damaged by food and drink.

Loan Periods & Policies

You can find loan periods and borrowing policies under the Borrowing section of the website.


Bike racks are located near the main entrance. Bicycles should not be parked in front of the main entry to the library.


A public elevator is available. People needing assistance in using the elevator or any other facility of the library should inquire at the Circulation Desk or the Research/IT Desk.


Computer labs for Carleton students are located on 3rd and 4th levels of the library. Computers (and other library equipment such as scanners, copiers, and microfilm readers) are primarily for use by Carleton students. The public is welcome to use equipment for a short period of time. See Computers, Printers & Technology for more information technology available in the library.

When equipment demands are great within the Carleton community, library staff may request that members of the general public not use equipment. Computers located at the Research/IT Desk, in staff offices, or in staff work areas are intended for library staff use only.


Small lockers are available for the storage of personal books, checked out library material, and papers. The library reserves the right to open and inspect any locker at any time, without prior notification.

If inspection of a locker reveals any misuse of the locker (e.g., storage of library material that is not properly checked out, storage of food or drink, storage of any toxic or potentially dangerous substance), then the library will remove the material, notify the locker holder of this action, and warn the locker holder that a second instance of misuse of locker privileges will result in automatic suspension of locker privileges for the remainder of the current academic term or vacation period plus ineligibility for locker privileges the following academic term.

If the locker holder believes there is a mitigating circumstance, an appeal of this penalty may be made to the College Librarian. The decision of the College Librarian on the appeal will be final.

Addressing Harmful Language in Library Discovery Tools

Carleton and St. Olaf Libraries aim to ensure an inclusive, accessible, and equitable environment for our patrons, including our library discovery tools. These tools and the information they contain are the work of many people across generations, and these records reflect a mix of past and current description standards and practices. We recognize that outdated, offensive, and harmful language may be found in our descriptive records. We are committed to addressing these issues in our discovery platforms when possible. 

Harmful or offensive language may appear for a variety of reasons such as: 

  • Some derogatory terms used to describe oppressed people have been reclaimed and used by authors and creators from those communities. 
  • Subject Headings, which enable standardized searching and access across our library catalog, are controlled by the Library of Congress and may retain certain problematic terms. 
  • Information is transcribed directly from the materials themselves which may contain the creators’ biases and prejudices. 
  • Some records are maintained by commercial vendors and other agencies external to the Libraries and cannot be changed. 

Our library staff is engaged in an ongoing effort to revise the catalog records over which we have editorial control. If you encounter any language that you consider to be harmful or offensive, please use this form to report it. 

Click here to report harmful language: Harmful Language Report Form

Special thanks to the Gustavus Adolphus Library and Penn Libraries, whose harmful-language and antiracist statements helped inform our own.