before I tell you that the UIUC library is the third largest [edit: academic library] in North America after those of Harvard and Yale, I ought to tell you that its basement floor doubles as a bomb shelter. This gives it instant kudos. If there is a global nuclear fallout and everyone has to retreat underground for several decades, I know where I want to be.
other quirks: half floors, a la Being John Malkovich, so the wanderer, in her travels, periodically encounters floors slotted in at wholly implausible junctures:
low ceilings, which get problematially lower as one descends into the bedrock (at least, problematic if one is a very tall man, like my good guide here):
and shelves that are less like bookshelves than the steel girders of the building itself, with floors grudgingly inserted at various intervals:
I gather it’s a slightly grim place to work (one gets pressed into a tiny wire-caged booth, probably with a candle, matches and a week’s rations), and it’s probably filled to the rafters with otherworldly inhabitants — wayward PhD students, hollow-eyed professors drifting spectrally amidst the parliamentary papers, the odd librarian imp zipping about the shelves, and the skeletal remains of feckless sojourners who dared venture into its depths with neither guide nor catalogue number …
thanks go to Jamie for showing me around!