“The Evolution of the College Library” was recently posted on The Atlantic website and offers key examples of academic libraries from the book The Library: A World History which more broadly traces “the development of university libraries across the world, as well as public and private libraries.” The book and resulting article are the product of a three year effort and visits to 84 libraries in 21 countries by Cambridge scholar James W. P. Campbell and “award winning architectural photographer” Will Pryce.
The article provides highly informed narratives along with inspired photos of college libraries ranging from Trinity Hall, Cambridge built in 1590 to the Fisher Fine Arts Library at the University of Pennsylvania constructed in 1891 to the Grimm Centre, Humboldt University in Berlin completed in 2009. The article points out that space issues related to design and utility have always been a main concern for libraries – while at the same time noting the creative ways these concerns have been addressed by enterprising architects and librarians. Another observation that rings true from reading this article and viewing these photos is that while today’s libraries may often be called information and media centers, they “are still very much a place for books.”
Anyone interested in library history and architecture will find this piece in The Atlantic worth spending some time with. The photos alone make examining this article worth the effort. Enjoy!
Tom is originally from Brooklyn N.Y but has spent his entire professional career in South Carolina, most recently as Head of Reference Services at the College of Charleston. As part of the Against the Grain and Charleston Conference team, he serves as the associate editor of the print ATG as well as the co-editor of the webpage. Tom’s conference duties include coordinating the Penthouse Suite interviews as well as the conference poster sessions.
He received his MLS from the University of Buffalo, SUNY and a second master’s in public administration from the College of Charleston and the Univ. of South Carolina. His wife Carol and he live in downtown Charleston and she is an artist and a tour guide offering historic walking tours of the city.