bookporn #29: main library, university of illinois (urbana-champaign)

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:

half floors

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):

very low ceilings, or very tall man?

and shelves that are less like bookshelves than the steel girders of the building itself, with floors grudgingly inserted at various intervals:

library of university of illinois urbana-champaign

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!


12 responses to “bookporn #29: main library, university of illinois (urbana-champaign)

  • Jamie

    My pleasure, Rachel!

  • Ralph Luker

    Rachel, UIUC’s library could be the third largest academic library in North America, but it can’t be the third largest library. I haven’t looked at the figures on holdings, but I think that the Library of Congress and the New York Public Library would have to be larger than UIUC’s.

    • Stephen Jones

      UIUC’s Library is the third largest academic library and the fifth largest library in the United States. The Library of Congress, Harvard, Yale, and Boston Public Library are the four libraries that are larger.

  • Rachel

    you’re right, Ralph — I did mean academic library. duly corrected!

  • Bill Tozier

    Actually a dead ringer for parts of the University of Michigan Graduate Library, too. Half-stories, steel shelving (which I want for my new house), wire cages at the margins as offices. U-M’s also has marble stairs here and there worn down like castle treads, sagging as if they are melting….

  • Bug Girl

    And for the Texas A&M library–actually, you’d need to be a bit -more- hunch backed for their library.

    Also, everytime I’ve been to the university of Michigan library, I’ve gotten hopelessly lost. I usually spend an extra hour just trying to Get Out.

  • Kevin

    I do miss working in the byzantine lair of the half-floors in the old stack sections.
    The automated moving shelves in the new part are pretty cool, too. Unless you get stuck between two of them. Then, not so much.

  • eofpi

    UIUC’s math library is worth a visit, too. Except for the bottom floor, the floors and stairs are all glass. In fact, the entire library is only glass, wrought iron, and books.

  • Milton Torres da Silva

    Kindly send me full address or POBOX for Main Library, or branches dealing with Amazonina History, and Brazilian Literature. I have a PHD in History, and I am a poet as well. I was informed you have one of my books (NO DIM DAS TERRAS, socio political poetry. Yours very faithfully, Milton Torres (da Silva)

  • MR

    Great shots!!!
    Where exactly in the Main Library are these shots taken? I’d love to go see them.

  • Sook Vonhagen

    This is my first time i visit here. I found so many interesting stuff in your blog especially its discussion. From the tons of comments on your articles, I guess I am not the only one having all the enjoyment here! keep up the good work

  • buy custom essays

    bookporn #29: main library, this is what i want keep it up

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