Harper Memorial Library
Harper Memorial Library's Information
Type: University Library
Rating: 0 Stars (Public Access)
Location: 339 Woodlawn Avenue (University Campus)
Fame: Book Collection
Atmosphere: Studious
Owner(s): University of Chicago
Manager(s): N/A
Employee(s): N/A
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Description

First Floor

Tall ceilings make the central foyer of the library building seem roomy. A pair of wide, curving, stone staircases climb up the walls to each side to reach the second floor. Their stone bannisters are smooth, but the space between them and the stairsteps is an elaborate latticework of Celtic knotwork. Beyond the bookend staircases to the back of the foyer is an open room with seating and snack machines. A hallway runs down the center of the building to the left and right before the concession room entrance.

West Wing

This long, wide hallway leads from the Central Hall to the east to a set of doors that open up to the outdoors at the western end. Situated along the corridor are several administrative offices, lecture halls and classrooms. Benches line the hallway here and there between the doors. A door marked 'Women' is to the south of the hallway in the center. Opposite it is the door to the men's restroom.

East Wing

This long, wide hallway leads from the Central Hall to the west to a set of doors that open up to the outdoors at the eastern end. Situated along the corridor are several administrative offices, lecture halls and classrooms. Benches line the hallway here and there between the doors. A door marked 'Women' is to the south of the hallway in the center. Opposite it is the door to the men's restroom.

Second Floor

As soon as you arrive on the second floor, you are faced with the administrative offices of the Department of History and the doors to the elevator. The stairs double back and head up toward the second floor, their latticework stone bannisters offering glimpses of light from the upper floor windows. There is a similar railing along the edge of the balcony that allows one to look down into the foyer. A hallway runs down the center of the building to the right and left in front of the history department.

West Wing

This long, wide hallway leads from the second floor landing to the east to a set of windows that look out at the western end. Situated along the corridor are lecture halls and classrooms. Benches line the hallway here and there between the doors. A door marked 'Women' is to the south of the hallway in the center. Opposite it is the door to the men's restroom.

East Wing

This long, wide hallway leads from the second floor landing to the west to a set of windows that look out at the eastern end. Situated along the corridor are offices belonging to history faculty. This section of the building is quieter and more warmly decorated than the other wings. The occasional welcome mat resides in front of an office door and there are write-on/wipe-off boards here and there along with small bulletin boards. A door marked 'Women' is to the south of the hallway in the center. Opposite it is the door to the men's restroom. Brass nameplates are tacked to each door with the name of the person who claims the office. Some doors have more than one name on them.

Third Floor Book Collection

There is a hushed atmosphere to this large room despite the number of people who are usually present within it. Tall bookshelves, dark with the patina of age, form long lines from east to west in the room, broken by a wide passage down the middle from north to south. The circulation and reference desks sit to the eastern side of the room, the long, dark counter bearing the sheen of polish. Behind the counter are a few doors that lead into the libraries inner offices. A very few chairs are scattered in the wide space before the desk and stairwell. To the west is the Reading Room where most people take their selections for further study. A water cooler sits between the elevator and the doors to the restrooms.

Reading Room

This reading room with its 39-foot-high ceiling is considered one of the most beautiful rooms on campus. Noteworthy carvings in the Harper Reading Room include the coat of arms of eight American universities (Harvard, Yale, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Michigan, Wisconsin, California, and Chicago) on the screen at the west end, and eight foreign universities (Oxford, Cambridge, Paris, Berlin, St. Petersburg, Bologna, Tokyo, and Calcutta) on the screen at the east end. Above the screens are carved the inscriptions, "Read not to contradict, nor to believe, but to weigh and consider" and "Whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning." Marks of eight famous early printers (Isaac Elzevir, William Caxton, Johannes Columbius, Henning Grosse, Guillaume Rouille, Thomas Vantrollier and John Norton, Theodosious Rihelius, and Aldus Manutius) ornament the corbels supporting the ceiling arches. The University's coat of arms and the Harper Memorial Library monogram, "HML," are repeated in the ceiling.' (Quoted from http://www.lib.uchicago.edu/e/harper/using/about.html)

Long, polished tables are neatly arranged along the room's equally polished floor. The wooden chairs share the same sheen and hue of the tables. Small lamps with green shades are placed at convenient intervals along the tables to help brighten the room for reading. Along the outer walls are a few plump leather sofas and side tables for more comfortable study.

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