Sunday, September 25, 2011

A visit to Ohio State University and the Thompson Library – part two

Continuing our visit of the Ohio State University (OSU) campus, we walked on what is called “The Oval” toward the Thompson Library, which borders it. Below is an aerial view I found on the Web (unknown author.)

Below is a map showing the Thompson Library at the top, building 050 (from the OSU maps.)

Architects designed the original building in 1910. It was renovated in 2006 (after two prior renovations.) The façade was kept as is but the inside was totally modernized and expanded. Ohio State mentions that this is “a three-year renovation designed to turn the 1913 building into a 21st Century academic center.” In this country, a turn of century building is considered “old.” Many buildings never have a chance to get old here as they are torn down. “Old” is relative as, for example, the French university La Sorbonne was founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon. There is also the Al-Azhar University in Cairo, Egypt, which was founded in 970-972 - that is old!

Cour de la Sorbonne, Paris. Original antique wood engraving, printed 1881

As we approached the library, it looks like a classic building.

But then, once inside – it was very different! My husband and I have been bookworms for many years – don’t have any idea about how many books we own. Visiting a library or a bookstore is one of our favorite pastimes. So we were in heaven!

Click on collage, then click again on each picture to enlarge

The Thompson Library reopened in 2009. The OSU Internet site gives some highlights: seating for 1,800 persons, more than 200 computers with Internet access, motorized window shades, 250,000 rare books, “green” elements, a 2-000 square foot café, wireless access with plenty of wall outlets and a million+ volumes. There are significant print collections and digital information resources, areas for quiet study and interactive group learning. The renovation involved 11 years of planning and 27 months of construction, requiring 569,799 man-hours. It is impressive.

The library was named in honor of William Oxley Thompson (1855-1933) the fifth president of OSU who served from 1899 to 1925. A large statue of Thompson welcomes you to the building. Here is his picture below (if his head was totally shaved, he would look like many men I see around here…)

As we walked into the library I took a picture of the seal of OSU embedded on the floor. I also snapped some brass plaques bearing scripts of languages, music and alphabet. The elevator doors had interesting engravings as well.

We took the elevator to the 11th floor. Then we entered a large room with comfortable chairs and tall windows.

The view from the windows was spectacular since it was a clear and sunny day. My sister-in-law was pointing out the different buildings on campus and naming them, but I can’t remember now which building was what.

The view was better than what is shown on my pictures, because the pictures were taken behind glass.

I can tell that this building below is University Hall (rebuilt in 1976.) It is home to the African-American Studies, Philosophy, Greek, Latin, and Women’s Studies Departments.

I can also recognize the stadium. It is called “The Shoe” because of its horse shoe shape. It was constructed in 1922 with a capacity of 102,329. As I said in part one, every seat in every game is sold out. This stadium was added in 1974 to the National Register of Historic Places. I could see it only partially from the window.

I liked that light and sunny room. I could certainly see myself with a book on a rocking chair and, once in a while, looking at the panorama below.

But we had more to see. I understand that the stacks used to be dark and dingy but now they are filled with light. You can see them from the glass partitions.

With the two tall atria with skylights the interior of the library is very bright and modern looking – not what you expect from the outside. There is a grand staircase leading to the ground floor. The east atrium has a “flying staircase” with 100 steps not attached to a wall. There are open reading rooms on many levels.

Some books with attractive bindings were close by. I was going to look at them, but then realized…that I could not read them! Shucks!

My sister-in-law was looking around then suddenly she called me. “Quick come and look! Here comes Brutus!” me “Brutus?” her “yes, the Buckeye mascot – we usually see him only during football games.

Brutus was going up the glass staircase very quickly. I tried to take his picture but could only take his back.

Before I knew it he had disappeared in the stacks. I ran after him, but where was he? I went all the way to the Buckeye Reading Room – maybe he was there?

Nope - just a lonely student reading near the Climate Change exhibit. Well I took his picture anyway.

While I was in the Buckeye Reading Room my sister-in-law was watching Brutus standing on the second floor, across from her. He was looking down toward the ground floor. She took his picture.

I tried one last time to find him in the stacks. I guess he had turned around because suddenly I was in front of him. I asked if I could take his picture. He shook his head yes.

I told him I would place him on my blog and people from around the world would admire him. His tee-shirt was wet – not surprising with the temperature being around 90 degrees or more outside. He may have been practicing.

Then we entered the Grand Reading Room – a 2 ½ stories tall room with floor-to-ceiling windows, long tables and lovely lamps. Immediately I recognized “La Victoire de Samothrace” statue. It is at the top of the Daru staircase in the Louvre Museum in Paris. I sketched it with my Art class a long time ago. I went closer to it and sure enough a panel said that it was a replica of the Winged Victory of Samothrace, a marble sculpture of the Greek goddess Victory (victory in Greek is “Nike.” (No, Nike is not a Japanese or Chinese word.)

It is estimated that the original marble statue was created around 190 BC. to honor the goddess Nike and a sea battle. It was probably destroyed in an earthquake and was found in many pieces on the island of Samothrace (NE Aegean Sea.) The pieces were discovered in April 1863 by the French consul Charles Champoiseau, an amateur archaeologist. It was assembled in situ and then sent to Paris that year. On the Internet I found a photo of the original at Le Louvre.

Before leaving we stopped to look at the special exhibits. There were some ladies’ clothes behind a large glass case – the type of garments Elizabeth Bennett, from Pride and Prejudice, would have worn.

This is what was written near the white dress below: “A revival in interest in classical antiquity at the turn of the nineteenth century led to the popularity of this dress style. Taking inspiration from Greek statuary, bleached by years in the sun, these dresses pay tribute to the contemporary assumption that classical costume had been white.

There was also an exhibit of pulp magazines from the 1930s and other interesting items.

We then went to the Ohio Union, a student facility center. We met Brutus there, but he was seating on a bench and no longer running in the library stacks. We had a spot of lunch at the Union Market with some cold drinks.

There were many food choices: Mexican, salad bar, grill, sandwiches, daily special and more. I had a German sausage sandwich with sauerkraut. There were few students and no lines. My sister-in-law said that when school starts, around the second week of September, there will be hundreds of students around – walking, rushing, balancing umbrellas, backpacks, phones, talking, laughing, etc. It won't be such a peaceful experience.

I finished by drinking an “expresso doppio” which was very good and inexpensive.

My sister-in-law told us that we had not seen the back side of the Thompson Library. But by then we were a bit tired. Instead I found some pictures of it, courtesy OSU pictures. One picture is an aerial view and the other was taken at night. The library certainly looks like a totally different building seen from this side.

It had been warmer and more humid in Columbus than in Atlanta which is unusual. To cool us off, here is a vintage postcard below showing Mirror Lake near the Library, but in winter.


Post pre-programmed .


Diane said...

Oh wow..... I can get lost just in a book shop so what I would do there I dread to think. Amazing. I have never heard of Brutus so I have learnt lots of new things today. Take care. Bonne journée Diane

FilipBlog said...

Very nice article about a library. I have also written about several one on my blog: Boston, Leuven, Vienna and Vatican City. The Leuven library is one of my top articles in vistors.


Pat said...

What a splendid day out - so much to admire and lunch too.
The library has a lovely feeling of 'Hush' - which all libraries should have.
The free standing stairs are a bit scary - I'd leave those well alone.
My granddaughter is doing English and American studies and will do a year in America. That looks a delightful option.

OldLady Of The Hills said...

This is too much to take in, my dear...I WANT TO MOVE IN TO THE LIBRARY....NOW!!! (LOL) Seriously....this place is Fantastic! I can understand why someone would want to go to this Fabulous School....I HATE SChool, and I WANT TO GO THERE!!!!! LOL....
You always introduce me to things, places, and people I know nothing about, or think I do know about---and actually don't, my dear Vagabond....And I thank you for that because you make me appreciate the true treasures that are available if one will just decide to partake of them---Especially, places in this country. I mean, This Is A GREAT University...It is EVERYTHING one would hope to be able to partake of, when going to a School of Higher Education.....PLUS, they have a fabulous Football History and Team.....(Love The Mascot What more could you ask for in a school...But that Library is a TRUE TREASURE!

Pondside said...

If I lived nearby I'd be a regular - what a fabulous library. There are two universities here in town, but neither has a very welcoming or interesting library. Thanks for the lovely tour - I wish I'd attended that university!

Rosaria Williams said...

A lovely visit! Thanks for sharing it with us.

DJan said...

What a fabulous library! And to see so many of the 200 computers not in use -- nothing like that here. People line up outside the library before it opens in order to get on line, and then they have a time limit. I loved that floating staircase, so much of the beauty of a place like this is missed by the casual observer. That is certainly not YOU! Thank you for the great tour.

Elaine said...

What a lovely library! I'm sure you were happy you visited before class was in session. It must be really chaotic then.

Ginnie said...

Your husband can be very proud of your Part 1 and 2 of this great university, Vagabonde. Even I can admit that, even though it's my arch rival...still to this day. Old rivalries never die. HA! That November football game between OSU and UM will probably be on TV in the Netherlands this year...the day after. And yes, I'll be watching it. I'll be hoping Brutus will NOT be a happy camper that day. :)

Ruth said...

Well in spite of my institutional feelings against OSU (not really, just kidding . . . I'm supposed to uphold the rivalry), the Thompson library is incredibly impressive. It makes me happy that they went to such lengths to preserve and enhance it. That top photo alone says so much. All of them show a stunning place designed with innovation. Even beautiful carpets to rest your feet on. Fabulous!

But I wonder if the stacks still smell like I want a library to smell?

French Girl in Seattle said...

Merci Vagabonde. I have enjoyed my visit of the library at the prestigious O.S.U. -- When I look back at the Parisian college where I worked on my M.A. years ago (Institut d'Anglais Charles V, Paris 7) I can' t help but marvel at the sheer luxury and elegance of American college campuses! This is no doubt reflected in tuition, too ;-) -- On another note, just wanted you to know I have mentioned a recent story of yours in today's post. -- Veronique (French Girl in Seattle)

Sam Hoffer / My Carolina Kitchen said...

You are so right. Old here is not old at all. Thank you for the tour of the campus and especially the library. College campuses always fill me with promise for the future and make me believe if you work hard enough and smart enough, your dreams can come true.

kyh said...

lovely lawns of the university.

and those books in chinese characters! i can definitely read them! :)

Jeanie said...

Libraries are so splendid, aren't they -- and this one is beautiful. I especially enjoyed the clothing exhibit, and I think you were lucky to see Brutus -- I had no idea that this was the OSU mascot! It looks as though you are enjoying a wonderful time! (I think the library should pay you for such a fine "book" report!

Arti said...

These two posts are simply amazing! I've thoroughly enjoyed this virtual tour of OSU. I've been to Kent State U. in Kent, OH, that's a small college compared to OSU. All buildings here in your posts have character. The library is amazing... your photos just augment the wonder.

Perhaps one thing I can 'contribute' is to tell you what the books with the beautiful spines but which you could not read are about: Upper left is a set entitled "Dictionary of Buddhism". Lower left are various titles on Religions in China, including Daoism, Confucianism, Ethnic Religions, and Japanese Religions. Upper right section is History: European, Pacific War History, Japanese... and the bottom right are Japanese titles which I can't offer much help.

claude said...

Bonjour Vagabonde !
J'ai un peu de mal à suivre car la traduction française arrive en paquet et je suis un êrdue par rapport aux photos.
Les bibliothèes, de beaux endroits pour amateurs de lecture, ce que je ne suis pas de trop. J'espère que ton voyage à NY se passe bien.
A bientôt !

Marja said...

What a wonderful library. I am a bookaholic as well and have too many books. Still have to read a lot of them though. Brutus is cute and MMmm you had sauerkraut a regular dish in Holland as well. I haven't eaten it for ages as you can't buy it here

Snowbrush said...

Oregon State has a beaver for a mascot, so I suppose they dress someone in a beaver suit and run him up and down the sidelines, although I'm so ignorant when it comes to sports that I'm doing good just to know WHAT their mascot is.

Lifecruiser Travel said...

Fantastic post really. for us living in the very small country of Sweden, this seem so huge.... Recently went to a bigger library in Stockholm city and thought that was big, but not anymore after seeing this!!!!

Miss_Yves said...

Superbe architecture, ambiance studieuse et confortable-un billet très bien documenté , inédit, étonnant!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...