Sunday, April 01, 2012

my favorite library?

Reading through the most recent issue (March/April 2012) of The University of Chicago Magazine, I was struck by the photograph (far right in the screenshot above) taken by Jared Ryder of the stacks of the Reg (ie. the Joseph Regenstein Library) that accompanied Amy Braverman Puma's "Visceral Chicago" article.1
Cue a wave of nostalgia for my undergraduate years. Oh how I loved the Reg. The open areas with their its color-coded carpet floors ("my" locker and carrel were on a discipline-inappropriate floor, the 4th I think it was, since I preferred the ambiance). The stacks with all their treasures. The intensity of its inhabitants. Its quirky architecture and backstory (supposedly shaped like the continental US with windows reminiscent of its namesake's claim to fame: the windowed envelope).  How quintessentially U of C it was (not architecturally, but intellectually).

The library has changed in the years since I left Chicago (granted not as much as my childhood public library, which was razed and replaced by a larger, greener building in 2007), I know it has. 700+ undergraduates took up residence practically right next door just months after I graduated.   How could that not change the demographic?  There's a new alien library building (Mansueto Library) adjacent and connected to the Reg, and collections have been and continue to be relocated. And surely countless other factors I know nothing about.
I supposed that I can't say that the Reg is still my favorite library.  It may have changed beyond recognition. It is, however, the library of my dreams.
  1. Inexplicably in the print edition, it is the photo of the comfy chair (far left in the screenshot above) from yet another U of C library (Harper Memorial Library) that is the centerfold and opener to "Visceral Chicago" by Amy Braverman Puma. Regardless of my personal library preferences, I think this was a poor choice. Any of the others, especially the two that didn't make it into the print edition (another shot of Harper comfy chair, Reynolds Club with superstitions seal), would have been better. The crease, though right at the division between upper and lower cushions, makes the item featured even more difficult to identify especially when readers first encounter the images rotated 90 degrees to the left.

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