“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!