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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Books! Glorious Books!

(If you must have politics, please scroll down)

Location: Admont, Austria Architect: Josef Hueber. Year: 1776.  The library's ceiling frescoes were inspired by the Enlightenment..

For the rest, see the slideshow 11 Libraries So Astounding You'll Leave Your E-Reader at Home.


  1. As far as I'm concerned, –– despite many fascinating developments and the all-too-brief period of glorious Art Deco innovation, –– architecture after having reached a peak of glorious perfection in the mid-to-late eighteenth century started on the downward side at the end of the Federal Period (c.1820-30).

    Even so, if modern buildings were to be featured in this montage, I wish the compositors had included New York University's Elmer Holmes Bobst Library at Washington Square where I did a good part of my graduate work when the building was brand new in the mid-1970's.

    The pictures in this link were the best i could find, but they don't begin to do justice to epic grandeur of the atrium and overall sense of wonder and well being this modern building inspires. do take a look:


    1. You beat me to it. I was going to put a picture of the Bobst Library. Although I didn't attend NYU I lived nearby and was allowed reading privileges as a member of the community. So I too, as a graduate student elsewhere, used the library in the mid 1970s. A "image google" of Bobst library will give many pictures from different angles. It's hard to capture it all.

    2. FT,
      Thank you for that link. Absolutely stunning images!

    3. Hello, Mr. Pappas. How nice to meet a fellow New Yorker! I haven't lived there for many years, but I still think of it as my true home.

      Glad we agree on Bobst. I remember it was criticized at the time for "wasting all that space." Some felt the grand atrium was a bad way to have spent so much money since it was only "empty air that cost lots of money to heat and cool."

      I loved it and found it inspiring –– unlike the dark, cramped Sibley Music Library at the Eastman School of Music where I had done my undergraduate work in piano performance.

      Happy New Year to you!

    4. And to you! You brought back good memories of my days as a student. As I studied science our paths probably didn't cross, unless I saw you perform. As a struggling student I used to go to free piano recitals in libraries and public landmarks (such as the Theodore Roosevelt House on 20th Street). More good memories!

  2. A time when knowledge was considered a treasure.

  3. I don't even have an e-reader and don't plan on getting one. Some of those super modern libraries made me dizzy.

    1. Adrienne,
      I use e-readers, but I must say that the experience with those readers is not the same as the experience with a physical book.

  4. This article appeared in today's edition of the WaPo:

    As Fairfax library collection shrinks, citizen groups demand audits, more funding

    ...The net loss of more than 440,000 books in the past decade has alarmed a group of ardent Fairfax book lovers, who have banded together to stop the library’s perceived decay....

    I suppose that it could be that physical libraries as we know them now will vanish as digital media become more versatile and more prevalent.

    A real shame if that happens! There are some studies showing that students who read from physical books instead of from digital books retain more of the information.

    1. Why shrinking? Are the books being STOLEN, or –– as I strongly suspect –– have they been systematically DISCARDED as no longer "relevant" or "up to date?"

    2. FT,
      The books are being discarded. Library patrons can come to book sales and take home the books being removed from the shelves. I am frequently at my local library when a book sale is being held; most of those buying books are older people or minorities (India, China).

      A few months ago, I wanted to reread some of Lonnie Coleman's books. All of Coleman's were no longer in the public library system in any format.

      I also note that our public library system no longer takes many book donations unless the books donated are on the bestseller lists or on the schools' reading lists.

    3. FT,
      For a while, the libraries here were actually throwing those books in the dumpster. And when merely a block away, there are collection bins for "Books for America" (or some such). These books are distributed in areas with smaller library systems.

      The library got caught red-handed by some watchful book lovers and now donates the discards to the nearby collection bins.

      BTW, one of my Chinese clients buys lots of books at the library book sale, which is ongoing while I'm tutoring her two sons. This family reads! And I mean reads books written in English.

    4. I would no more throw a book in a dumpster than I would put a kitten in a microwave and cook it on high till it stopped screaming. WHY does the library system employ such lousy stinking STUPID inconsiderate bastards? They ought to be horsewhipped.

  5. Wonderful reading companion:


    I do not have a Kindle, Nook, etc. I purchase hardcover and love cracking the spine, the smell of the page.


    1. Tammy,
      love cracking the spine, the smell of the page

      I absolutely agree.

      Unfortunately, some of the books I read are available only in electronic versions -- The Hoosier Schoolmaster, for example.

  6. Replies
    1. "Where is the Life we have lost in living? Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge? Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?"

      T. S. Eliot

  7. This is fantastic! The Foster design in Berlin is truly amazing - kind of a large scale version of Alvo Aalto's litte gem on the campus of Mt. Angel Abbey in Oregon. Truly a worthy piece: http://www.brittanypowell.com/away-from-home/alvar-aaltos-mount-angel-abbey-library/


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