3.
Libraries and Museums

". . . the most beautiful building on campus, clearly reflecting by its symmetry and balance, the triumph of the architect over the librarian."

LOUIS R. WILSON AND MAURICE F. TAUBER "THE UNIVERSITY LIBRARY"

2 The Triumph of the Architect over the Librarian Low Library, Columbia University

From the viewpoint of architecture and educational purpose college and university libaries uniquely reflect the special characteristics of American higher education as it has evolved in the past three centuries. The emerging prominence of the library as a central building of special importance on campus can be traced in several ways -- growth in acquisitions, improvements in methods of operation because of technological advances, and changes in attitudes toward planning and designing library buildings.

The first American college was built around a group of books left to the school by John Harvard. A century later ( 1736) the Harvard College catolog listed 3,000 volumes. Two-thirds of these were sermons and religious tracts. Similarly at Brown University ( 1782) the president noted that the school's 3,000 books were "mostly theological and not well chosen, being such as our friends could best spare.''1 This inadequacy denied students access to Shakespeare, Dryden, Chaucer and Poe. Scarcity and poor titles continued to be a problem for another half century. Yale ( 1841) had perhaps the largest non-theological collection, but its entire library of 41,000 books was small in comparison to the German universities of the same period: 400,000 books in Munich, 240,000 in Dresden, and 200,000 in Wolfenbuttle, a University town of 7,000 inhabitants.2 The place of the library in early 19th century education is evident in the Trustees report ( 1818) for the University of Georgia: "The library now contains more volumes . . . than will be read by the student whilst in college." But while the Georgia library was the largest in the South, it wasn't big enough to have a room of its own.3

Beginning with the University movement just after the Civil War, the American college and university library dramatically changes in scope and importance. Yale with 55,000 volumes in 1870 had 400,000 in 1903. A 1906 census showed that total acquisitions in the United States had reached the ten million mark, with a value of $13 million, which was close to the total worth of all scientific equipment on campus. By 1940 there were 23 universities with collections over 500,000 volumes. Harvard at that time had over 4 million books which made it one of the largest libraries in the world. It has 6 million today.

Size alone is no indication of a library's role in education. The significance' of the growth of the American collections is also related to the fact that the increase in number of volumes was accompanied by innovations that allowed readers to obtain the new books easily. With greater funds for acquisition, the rise of special collections, and the increase of knowledge through research there arose the "librarian's paradox"--the constant readjustment of the books that are in demand, with no interference with the reader's convenience.4 The problem was solved through superior techniques in classifying and cataloging books, so much so that a contemporary observer ( 1906) noted that frequently as many days are required for drawing a book in the library of a German university as are minutes in drawing one in the American college.5

Electricity and longer library hours give important impetus to higher education, two aspects of library operation that may seem trivial today. The early libraries were generally open only one day a week, for a couple of hours in the afternoon. Tucked away in an obscure corner of the college building the reading room was inconvenient and badly ventilated. Readers shared a public candle and could hardly see the books that were there. As late as 1868 the library at Columbia was open only two hours a day. In 1877 one in seven college libraries were not operating daily. A. D. F. Hamlin summarized the situation in 1925: "As I look back over 50 years of graduate life, the provision for the use of the library, alike in Amherst where I was graduated and in Columbia where I began teaching in 1883, was so meager as to be absolutely ridiculous.''6 Within one lifetime then libraries had changed from a minor activity to a major role in education.

Libraries became a subject of architecture in the "classical era" beginning in the 1880's. From then to 1930 "considerable

-85-

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Campus Planning
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page i
  • Table of Contents v
  • I. Prospectus 1
  • 1 - Outlook 3
  • 2 - Campus Design in Perspective 13
  • 3 - Campus Planning 43
  • Ii. the Campus and Its Parts 55
  • Footnotes 65
  • 3 - Libraries and Museums 85
  • 4 - Research 95
  • 5 - Centers of Extracurricular LIfe 101
  • 6 - Institutional Services 113
  • 7 - Housing 119
  • Footnotes 145
  • 8 - Sports, Recreation and Physical Education 147
  • 9 - Circulation and Parking 159
  • 10 - Utilities 166
  • Section III: Campus Plans 169
  • 1 - Expanding the Campus 171
  • 2 - Organizing for Planning 173
  • 3 - Survey and Analysis of Existing Conditions 183
  • 4 - Programming the Development Plan 199
  • Footnotes 208
  • 5 - Design in Planning 209
  • 6 - A Selection of Development Plans 239
  • 7 - Urban Renewal and Campus Expansion 275
  • 8 - New Campuses 287
  • Acknowledgments: 308
  • Index 308
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