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 .

Monday, September 19, 2011

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

Recently we stayed in Ohio for 10 days to visit family. Arriving at the Columbus Airport we knew we were in the right airport as so many people were wearing tee-shirts saying “Ohio State” or “OSU” or “Buckeyes.” For the benefit of my blogging friends from overseas I’ll explain that Columbus is the capital of the state of Ohio (located in the Midwest of the country.) The original and main campus of Ohio State University (OSU) is located in the center of town. Yesterday I went to a postcard show and found some vintage postcards on Columbus and OSU. Here are two views of Columbus. The postcard from High Street is circa 1909 and the other one circa late 1930s.

Ohio State University or OSU was founded in 1873. I read that it is now the 3rd largest university in the USA. It is ranked in the top 20 public universities in the country and the top 130 universities in the world. In 1878 six men were the first to graduate from OSU and in 1879 the first woman. Below is a picture of University Hall in 1899.

This university has certainly grown since those early days. Now there are 55,000 students enrolled in the 14 different colleges on the Columbus campus which is on 1,700 acres (688 hectares) with 457 buildings. Here is a 1940 era postcard showing four of the buildings.

There are close to half million living alumni from OSU (which is why OSU tee shirts can be seen on people in many other states – I saw one man wearing a red OSU shirt yesterday after the postcard show in Smyrna, Georgia. I also saw one in Paris last May.) My late father-in-law was an alumnus. My husband as well as our nephew attended and graduated from OSU. Below is a postcard showing the campus circa 1960.

My sister-in-law who also graduated from OSU became a professor there for decades and my daughter and son-in-law completed their medical internships and residencies at the OSU Medical Center. Here is a postcard of the Medical Center circa 1950 – It may look quite different now, or may not….

The name of the state, Ohio, comes from the Iroquois Indian word ohi-yo’ which means great river. It is known at the “Buckeye State” because of the Ohio buckeye tree. Ohioans are known as “Buckeyes.”

Old print of Ohio Buck eye [Ohio Buckeye or American Horse Chesnut.] (1841-1849)

Growing up in Paris I don’t remember colleges having football teams, but it may have changed now. Here college football is big business. I am talking about American "football" which is played mostly in the USA and Canada. The US calls “soccer” what 200 other countries call football (a game played by 250 million players worldwide.) The first OSU football team was formed in 1890 – they later were called the “Buckeyes.” Below is a photograph of OSU stadium in 1920.

If you are in Columbus during a game you will see an innumerable amount of people wearing red tee-shirts or other clothing saying “OSU” or “Buckeye” as red and grey are the football team colors. Every seat in every game is sold out!

Babies, youths and adults wear these colors – they are also on cars, bags and a multitude of items.

I think that most people living in Ohio are fans of the Buckeyes but the team is also known nationwide. I read that in 2006 the OSU versus University of Michigan game was watched on TV by 22 million people. The University of Michigan is known as the archrival of OSU in football. The first OSU-Michigan football game was played in 1897 (Michigan won.) Below is OSU first football team, in 1890.

During a football game intermission the Ohio State University Marching Band executes a march that forms the name Ohio in script. It is well known. What is not so well known is the fact that the music they use was originally a French military march called “Le Régiment de Sambre et Meuse.” I wrote a post on it last year. If you would like to see videos of the French march and the Script Ohio march click here. Below is a photograph of the first “Script Ohio” in March 1936.

During this visit to Columbus my sister-in-law suggested that we visit the new Thompson Library on campus – this is the main library there. So, the morning after we arrived, my husband and I accompanied my sister-in-law and a friend (who is a retired OSU administrative Dean) to the OSU campus. I had been to Columbus numerous times before and driven by all the different college buildings but never walked on campus. I enjoyed walking under the large old trees. They must look gorgeous in their autumn golden colors.

Click on picture to enlarge

I don’t think that classes were in session as only a few students were around walking, or bicycling.

We saw University Hall from a distance. This is the replica of the old University Hall which I showed in an 1895 photo above. The old building was torn down 40 years ago as it was considered a fire hazard. The new building, which was a replica on the outside, but modern inside, was opened in 1976.

Among the trees I could see a tower. I was told this is the bell tower of Orton Hall, the oldest building on campus.

I like that type of spooky looking building. It was built in 1893 in a Romanesque castle style. The 24 columns encircling the tower look like mean gargoyles but I could not distinguish them well. They used 40 different types of Ohio stone in this building.

The building was named for Edward Orton, who was the university’s first president from 1873 to 1881. It houses the Geology Department and a museum where Jeff, the campus dinosaur can be seen. I only saw Jeff from a distance as the museum was closed. But I liked the beautiful stain glass windows and ceiling.

There was a glass cabinet displaying old pictures on the history of the building. I tried to snap them with my camera but they did not come out too well. The picture below of Edward Orton is from OSU Archives (as well as the other old photographs.) It is said that he haunts the building. In the last years of his life he spent many hours reading by lamp light in the top of the bell tower. Some visitors have said that they have seen the light of his flickering lamp through the slats around the tower…. eery.

It certainly was a lot more cheerful outside near some pretty flowers.

Leading the way, my sister-in-law was entering her old building, Medenhall Laboratory, where she taught English Literature and Writing for many years . She taught in other buildings too, some quite far away. The walk was good exercise but not too much fun in the snow.

Entering the lobby I admired the “fossil like” design on the floor and was impressed by one wall covered with various sized stones, giving it an interesting texture.

From habit, my sister-in-law went behind the lectern in her old classroom. I don’t think the two “students” in attendance were teachable though…

The view from the class windows was quite nice. I wonder how many students looked outside searching for the best word to use or right sentence in their exam papers.

Next we were going to visit the library. But this post is getting long, so it will be in part 2.

More to come later...
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