A Reading Room

Posted on 30 January 2009 at 2:48 am in Coursework, Photography.

While this blog will largely be devoted to technology, it is always worthwhile to look at the past: there is both beauty and wisdom in the old ideas of our great institutions.

One of my favorite aspects of historic libraries is the grand, classical reading room with its soaring ceilings and walls clad in books. Few modern libraries have a public space so monumental, and so wholly devoted to quiet scholarship. The reader is impressed by his or her surroundings; it elevates their condition. I took this picture in the reading room of the New York Public Library:

Locally, I recommend the Doe Library’s Reference Reading Room, on the campus of the University of California, Berkeley, for similar grandeur. Would you nominate any other grand spaces?

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6 Comments

  1. Comment by Emily Ransom on January 30, 2009 at 9:42 am.

    Credit is certainly due to the great outdoors… a beachfront adirondack chair overlooking Half Moon Bay!

  2. Comment by Lea Mason on February 1, 2009 at 6:26 pm.

    It would be a great experience to go to Washington D.C. and do researc in the
    <a href=”http://myloc.gov/ExhibitSpaces/MainReadingRoom/Pages/default.aspx” title=”Library of Congress Reading Room” Library of Congress Reading Room

  3. Comment by Lea Mason on February 1, 2009 at 6:27 pm.

    It would be a great experience to go to Washington D.C. and do research in the
    <a href=”http://myloc.gov/ExhibitSpaces/MainReadingRoom/Pages/default.aspx” title=”Library of Congress Reading Room” Library of Congress Reading Room

  4. Comment by admin on February 3, 2009 at 3:01 pm.

    I’ve actually recently returned from a week-long research trip at the Library of Congress for my thesis. However, I didn’t get to do any work in the formal reading room — I was in the very utilitarian Manuscript Reading room in the fifties-era Madison Building. It was still a very fulfilling experience.

  5. Comment by Melissa Holloman on February 3, 2009 at 3:47 pm.

    Currently, I’m working as a paraprofessional in Stanford’s Green Library, and given that’s my local environment, I can’t help but respect and enjoy two reading rooms in that library (it kills me, as a UC Berkeley alum, to say that!):

    The Lane Reading Room
    The Bender Room

  6. Comment by Savi on August 16, 2009 at 1:59 am.

    I recall the grand, vaulted-ceiling reading room in the Des Moines Public Library… My father took me often to that impressive structure downtown on the river. I would wander about as well as look up books, while he stayed in that reading room. In those days, the room was full of silent, absorbed people. In your photo of the NY reading room… these days, it seems there are but few people there….. Our brand-new Durango library has several “living rooms” to read in and they are well-used. So are the online computers, as I’m certain is the case in NY.

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