New exhibition on the Cold War in American Culture

Looking Over Our Shoulder: The Cold War in American Culture is now on view in the Libraries’ Special Collections Research Center (SCRC) exhibition space. A corresponding digital exhibit is also available online.

High School students practice “duck and cover” technique. Oliver F. Atkins photograph collection, C0036, Box 54, Folder 118, Special Collections Research Center.

In Looking Over Our Shoulder, members of the SCRC team have selected examples from the Libraries’ special collections that illustrate aspects of American life during the Cold War from a variety of angles, through manuscripts, photographs, publications, material culture, and other items. From concerns about the spread of Communism, the threat of atomic warfare, and the Space Race to architecture, fashion, art, film, theatre, novels, and even home décor, the exhibit demonstrates the pervasiveness of the Cold War era on every aspect of American life.

With each exhibit curated by SCRC, Bob Vay (technology and exhibitions archivist) tries to link the history to the lived experience here at Mason. For Looking Over Our Shoulder, he curated a case focused on “The Cold War as A Source of Dissent at George Mason College/University” and highlighted some of the protests in the 1960s. In addition to his work in creating the corresponding digital exhibit, Vay will be sharing a series of blog posts about the current exhibition on the Special Collections Research Center blog. His introduction to the exhibit is available here, and his exploration of “The Ever Present Fear of Atomic Attack & Atomic Energy” is available here.

On Tuesday, November 16, 2021, SCRC will be partnering with the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at George Mason University (Mason OLLI) to host “The Iron Curtain,” a virtual event where Professor Samuel Clowes Huneke will moderate a panel of select OLLI members regarding the history of the Iron Curtain and their individual experiences. This event is made possible by an OLLI Mason Special Project Grant awarded to the Libraries. The discussion will be recorded and added to SCRC’s Oral History Program collection.

SCRC collections are available for use by students, faculty, researchers, and others for research or instructional use. In addition to the items featured in the current exhibit, SCRC holds other related collections to the Cold War as well as many other subject areas. For more information SCRC and their collecting areas, visit their collections site.

New, Expanded Access to Cambridge University Press Ebooks

The Libraries now provides access to around 12,000 Cambridge University Press ebooks published from 2015 to the present. You can find these books by browsing on the Cambridge Core platform or via the Mason Libraries search bar. You can also download this PDF with embedded links to subject area collections – just click on the icon of the subject you are interested in exploring.

Cambridge ebooks are ideal for students’ studies and for faculty’s course reading lists. Just provide the link to a book or chapter in Blackboard, and students will be able to read online or download the book without any restrictions (DRM free).

After years of flat or falling budgets combined with inflation and rising subscription costs, the Libraries has turned to new and innovative ways of providing access to resources for our community. In this case, the Libraries’ payment to Cambridge University Press not only provides access to more ebooks than we would normally purchase, but also serves as a deposit. After 12 months of ebook access, we will use that deposit to buy a selection of Cambridge ebooks for permanent addition to the collection. We ultimately own fewer books, but the Mason community enjoys immediate access to a much larger collection.

The Libraries provides access to many other DRM-free ebooks via JSTOR, Wiley, Taylor & Francis, and specialized collections such as our Springer ebooks. Ask your subject librarian how to identify library ebooks for your studies or courses.

Resource of the week: Oxford Scholarship Online

Oxford Scholarship Online is a vast and rapidly-expanding online library, providing easy access to thousands of books from the world-renowned scholarly list of Oxford University Press. Spanning subjects across the humanities, social sciences, sciences, medicine, and law, Oxford Scholarship Online is an essential research resource for student, scholar, and academic alike, no matter what their subject specialty. The resource contains cutting-edge works from up-and-coming academics, alongside the classic scholarship of established and award-winning names, including Nobel Laureates.

Oxford Scholarship Online is available to our library via VIVA, Virginia’s Academic Library Consortium. Access here.

Welcome to Mason Libraries – Fall 2021

Mason Libraries welcomes new and returning students and faculty to the Fall 2021 semester! We look forward to seeing you, and we are here to support your scholarly endeavors and to help you succeed in your studies, whether in-person or virtually. As we continue to inhabit a changing public health landscape, the best place to find out about our current services and any updates are our FAQs page, our Services Updates page, and our News blog, where we will communicate any updates or changes.

What to expect this fall

The Libraries continues to support the Mason community through a hybrid model of in-person and virtual offerings, with extensive electronic resources, including virtual workshops, instruction sessions, research consultations, and virtual reference service. As with the rest of the university, the Libraries has adjusted to operate safely during the COVID-19 pandemic and services may change at any time as conditions warrant.

Hours: Our hours have been updated for the fall semester and may change if needed.

Library Access: Through Monday, September 6, 2021, access to any library location is limited to Mason students, faculty, and staff. Signage will be posted to indicate the university’s Safe Return to Campus guidelines, and those who do not adhere to the university policies and guidelines may be asked to leave and may be subject to disciplinary action. As of Tuesday, September 7, 2021, the Libraries will welcome our Passport Program participants and other community members to resume in-person library visits. All who visit the Libraries should be wearing face coverings and should be prepared to show the results of their daily COVID health check.

Stacks: As of Monday, August 16, 2021, the stacks have reopened for in-person browsing, though patrons are still welcome to utilize our online request system if they prefer via their library account. If you encounter difficulty placing your request, please email

Study Spaces and Computers: To promote physical distancing and follow university guidelines, some tables, carrels, workstations, and chairs were removed or marked out-of-use in each library and building capacity was limited. As we begin the Fall 2021 semester, these spaces may change and capacity numbers have been increased. We continue to offer individual study rooms for use by reservation, and we will open up group study rooms for reservation as well. For those who prefer a distanced study space, please visit Fenwick Library’s 5th floor study space which has been designated for this purpose.

Furniture: With the start of the Fall 2021, the amount of distanced space will change as furniture is returned from storage. We ask you that not move or rearrange the furniture.

Food and Drink: No food and beverages are allowed in library locations, with the exception of water in a closed container. Please help us maintain clean and safe spaces by not bringing in food or drink. Face coverings should be worn at all times, unless actively drinking.

Further information about circulation, reference, and research services: Please review our current FAQs.

Health & safety protocols

Current status information

The Libraries will follow university and state guidelines. Our FAQs will be updated as needed. Responses are based on Mason’s Safe Return plan and current information. Responses and available services are subject to change.

General information on library services

Mason Libraries provides free 24/7 access to thousands of online resources for Mason faculty, students and staff – just use your Mason NetID and password. Visit to discover what the Libraries offer to support and enhance your learning, teaching, and research at Mason. Highlights include:

Questions? Please contact us at any time.

Library stacks opening + HathiTrust ETAS program closing

The Libraries is re-opening the stacks for browsing and check-out, as of Monday, August 16. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the stacks have remained closed since March 2020, with items available for pick-up request via an individual’s library account or in e-format if available.

With the re-opening of the stacks, our extended emergency access with HathiTrust will come to a close. This temporary emergency agreement allowed for access to a number of items in our collection in e-format, as long as those physical items remained non-circulating. As these items will now be available for circulation in our open stacks, electronic access will no longer be available for certain titles.

The Libraries has extensive e-resources in the form of e-books and research databases which you can find via Mason Libraries Search. Additionally, as the Libraries is a member organization of the HathiTrust community, Mason students, faculty and staff have access to thousands of HathiTrust collections and items not contained in our own collections. Access is available by visiting HathiTrust, clicking on “Log in,” selecting “George Mason University” as the partner institution, and entering your Mason credentials.

For members of our community who prefer to continue to use our request and pick-up option instead of browsing the stacks in person, you are still able to request materials via your library account for pick up at our Access Services desks in each library location.