Saturday, June 23, 2012

Libraries That Linger in My Mind...and Heart

I am a lover of libraries so it was a pleasure to read about a book that explores their architecture. I think most avid readers have fond memories of their favorite libraries. It's called Library Architecture + Design (yes, the plus is in there in place of the word and) written by Manuela Roth. 

My favorite library had a classic Gothic feel and came by it honestly as it was built in the 1800's. There were deep stacks to wander and lose yourself in...and maybe run into a ghost or two! I know I always expected it, but all I really got were chills up my spine! Once I'd found my books (using the good old-fashioned card catalog, of course!) I found a place at one of the many long wooden tables stacked down the center of the main rooms. I sat in a solid, heavy-wooden chair and read by the light of green shaded lamps that ran the length of each table. 

This love of libraries began long ago in a Carnegie library with it's classic architecture:stone steps topped by columns, century-old wooden floors that creaked with each step, and a musty smell that only compulsive readers could love!

Now, I'm not saying a library has to be verging on decrepit to earn my affection. One of my college libraries, at the University of Denver (DU), was brand new and cutting-edge modern. It had the oddest little orange cubicles just big enough to sit in with your books and a contraband soda. Drinks in the library were frowned upon then...I wonder how libraries feel about it in this Starbucks age where it's hard to put down your latte just to pick up a book. 

One of my sons is at DU now and, unfortunately, he arrived just in time for a two year renovation of the library-just the amount of time he'll be attending.  In the meantime, students have access to books at another location, possibly waiting a day or more to have the book they want brought in from storage. 

I'm hoping that when the new library is unveiled we can go, together, to stroll it's stacks and test out what I'm sure will be a cutting edge internet version of the voluminous card catalog. I wonder if it will smell musty in there...or maybe like a double mochachino!

(photo courtesy Deering Library, Northwestern University)

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