Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Quasitypecast: Why libraries?

I was asked to say a few words on the occasion of the renovation of Xavier University's library, which is connected to our new Learning Commons -- a building with a variety of classrooms, learning labs, and high-tech study spaces where students roam with their laptops. I figured these thoughts on the relation between old and new might be appropriate to this blog. This is not a true typecast, but was written with MS Word Mac 2011 (I really do like its Full Screen mode!) using my Remington Noiseless font.

The learning commons -- light, airy, contemporary, and not a book in sight:

The library -- archaic towers of paper:


  1. Very nice renovation; I spent some months doing research there in '05.

    "what meets the eye does not yet meet the mind..."
    Great speech.

  2. In my mind the archaic is what supports the modern. Those old stacks are pillars of knowledge that allow the light breezy world of the "learning commons" to exist. No matter how modern something seems, there is an a little bit of the old-fashioned holding it up. Great speech!

  3. Beautifully stated, Richard. I was graduated from college in the early 80's and remember well those little 'card request' forms to fill out. My first job in the early 70's was across from the old main branch of the Houston Public Library and I spent hours in that dark, drafty old building-what a pleasure! Libraries, particularly old ones, have their own aroma, an odor which a computer could never replicate. Thank you for your eloquent posting!

  4. That commons area looks wonderful. That's cool that they remodeled the building to perhaps build some renewed interest in younger students.

    I've rediscovered my love of the public library this year and it is a great establishment. Our old library in Snohomish is a Carnegie building. A new building was built down the street a few years ago and was labeled as one of the top 10 libraries by Nancy Pearl in USA Today. It makes just going there (let alone finding new books to read) very fun for my whole family, the same enjoyment that it sounds like you experience with your newly revamped library.

    Great post.

  5. Very moving speech. I suppose if you had video you'd have shared it. Growing up poor and moving a lot I was fortunate that my parents both made sure we lived near libraries. I have less familiarity with bookstores even now, late in life.