The Laurence McKinley Gould Library is the main library of Carleton College. It is most commonly referred to by Carleton students as either "the Library" or simply "the Libe." It was constructed in 1956 and named in honor of Laurence Gould, former geology professor and president of the college.
The original building was designed by Magney, Tusler and Setter of Minneapolis. The 1983 additions were designed by Sovik, Mathre, Sathrum and Quanbeck of Northfield. It is located between Leighton Hall and Laird Hall.
The Library consists of four public floors. The main entrance of the library, which faces the Bald Spot, leads into the fourth floor (which is considered to be the main floor). The first and lowest floor is an official repository of government documents. Because the Library is situated on a hill, the fourth floor receives light from all directions, while the second and third floors receive light from only one direction, and the first floor receives light from only one direction.
In addition to books and other reference materials, there are computer labs on the third and fourth floors, as well as a variety of comfortable seating. There is usually a surplus of seating, with the exception being during and before Finals.
The library is not only a place to check out and read books, or to study. It's also a popular gathering place and meeting location. An elegant room called The Athenæum, named for the Greek Goddes of wisdom Athena and located next to the entrance, is home to many cultural events and discussions that are open to the public. Common events include lectures and readings by notable authors.
More information about the Athenæum can be found here.
The Rookery is a comfortable reading lounge filled with couches. It is also home to the latest issues of the most popular magazines and other periodicals that the library subscribes to, and all recently acquired books. There is also a shelf of children's books and another of science fiction. Located in a large room near the entrance, the intention is that students can walk in, grab something new, and sit or lie down on a couch and read for a while. Many students do so, and during peak hours the room is full.
The Rookery was a computer lab until it underwent renovation, along with much of the rest of the Library, during the summer of 2004. The periodical area that comprised the rest of the fourth floor was converted into a mixture of scattered computers and periodicals, with both overseen at the joint Research/IT desk.
Art is always scattered throughout the Library. In front of it is the Founders Court, featuring a sculpture called the Carleton Arch (also known as the Hadzi Arch, after its sculptor). Between the entrance and the Research/IT desk, there are always multiple exhibitions of assorted artwork, and there are photographs and paintings on the walls throughout every floor. (A montage of some of these can be seen in the DVD Fest film "Mitch's Glasses.") Most of these are temporary, but the displays on the fourth floor in honor of Laurence Gould are permanent, including one that features a stuffed penguin named Oscar, moved there as of 2003. More details on Oscar and a treatment he received in 2001 can be found here.
The penguin is something of an informal mascot of the Library, thanks to Laurence Gould's fame as an antarctic explorer. It can be seen on the front page of the library's website, and on other logos and small pieces of artwork produced by the library. It is unclear whether all of the penguins are intended to be Oscar, the stuffed Emperor penguin.
The penguin is considered to be an informal mascot of the college in general. During the early part of the 2005-2006 academic year, there was a vocal movement among students to make the penguin the official mascot. These students argued that it is more distinctive and more representative of Carleton's history and spirit than the present mascot. However, there was an equally vocal opposition that defended The Knight, which has been Carleton's official mascot and team name since 1950.
Ever since the 2004-2005 academic year, Carleton and St. Olaf have shared a joint catalog called The Bridge. Those with library access at either college can use The Bridge to search materials available at both colleges and request them. In early Spring Term 2006, it was announced that The Bridge had reached 1,000,000 entries. 
The Library employs eight reference librarians, each of whom functions as a "liaison" with several departments. (A list of the liaisons for each department can be found here, along with their hours.) As of Spring Term 2009, the librarians and their fields are:
- Matt Bailey, Art and Art History, Cinema and Media Studies, Theater and Dance
- Iris Jastram, American Studies, Asian Studies, Asian Languages and Literature, English, French and Francophone Studies, German, Linguistics, Literary and Cultural Studies, Music, Russian, Spanish
- Danya Leebaw, Educational Studies, European Studies, Latin American Studies, International Relations, Political Economy, and Political Science
- Kristin Partlo, Economics, Sociology and Anthropology
- Charlie Priore, Biology, Chemistry, Psychology, and Pre-Med
- Carolyn Sanford, European Studies, Latin American Studies, and Special Majors
- Heather Tompkins, African and African American Studies, Classical Languages, Hebrew and Judaic Studies, History, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, Philosophy, Religion, Women's Studies
- Ann Zawistoski, Geology, Math, Physics and Astronomy, Psychology, and Computer Science
Reference librarians can also assist with technology issues. Eric Hinsdale is the Library Technology Coordinator. There is a Research/IT desk straight in front of the entrance that has both a reference librarian and a student SCIC worker during most hours.
Special gadgets available at the library include microfilm scanners connected to computers, a giant flat-screen TV near the reference area that can be written on using touch-screen markers, and a projector located on the 3rd floor known as the "Silver Screen" that is connected to a smaller touch-screen, so that notes can be written on the smaller screen and displayed on the larger one. There are also computers throughout the 4th floor, an enclosed computer lab and an open-area computer lab on the 3rd floor, and "Libe Macs" scattered throughout the library for quick access to e-mail or The Bridge. (See also LibX)