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Welcome to the Library

Welcome to the new Beneficial-Hodson Library and Information Technology Center, where you can experience a blend of tradition and innovation. Come in and browse today’s newspaper in a handsomely appointed reading room or use the latest technology to capture information stored in databanks all over the country.

When The Hillier Group first assumed the task of designing the new library, the architects quickly found that, although there were some problems with the old building, there were many elements that we wanted definitely to preserve in the new.

What did students, faculty, and alumnae love about the old Joseph Henry Apple Library? They delighted in the elegant woodwork, the bays, and the balance between spacious reading rooms and cozy study corners. They wanted all the warmth and charm of the old library in a building that was also comfortable and efficient. And they got it—along with a better heating, ventilating, and cooling system, space for growth of collections and technology, more copiers and restrooms, meeting rooms, a lobby, and a roomy elevator.

As you walk in, it is easy to see that one of the major design themes is that of accessibility—accessibility to the building itself, to the staff, and to the collections. The entrance is at ground level, and there is an automated door for access by disabled persons. The path from street to door to elevator has no step or obstacle to impede the visitor.

The lobby has comfortable seating in soft shades of teal blue, green, and terra cotta—hues repeated throughout the library in carpet and furnishings. The beautifully designed cherry wood paneling and cabinetry add rich detail to this “splendid lobby,” as “Washington Post” architectural critic, Benjamin Forgey, called it in a February 29, 1992 review.

The stately grandfather clock (ca. 1810) in the lobby is on loan from the Apple family. Encased in Honduran mahogany, it stands over nine feet tall and reportedly keeps good time. Framed prints of the Ark and the Dove hang on either side of the clock, their origin unknown.

To your right is the information desk, an imposing rectangular structure made of cherry (as are all the woodwork, tables, and carrels in the library). You can get directions at this desk, information on library or campus activities, or research assistance from an experienced reference librarian. You will also find terminals here, as on all floors of the library, that will provide access to the library’s automated catalog, HOLIS (Hood On-Line Library and Information System). Through the same terminals, you can explore the catalogs of several other libraries throughout the country or search the contents of about 12,000 journals. The information services area, like other public service areas, is designated by bold, black Times-Roman lettering.

Beyond the information desk, you’ll see the Information Technology Center. Students may use any of several computer workstations here that will enable them to sift through the contents of business, psychology, education, and interdisciplinary databases on CD ROM (Compact Disk-Read Only Memory).

You also will see a number of audiovisual stations, where students can view, listen to, or study videotapes, audiocassettes, and compact disks. We have a growing collection of music on compact disk, several 16mm films, and a number of videocassettes including management training films, operas, musicals, documentaries, and classic feature films.

Adjacent to this area are staff offices and the Beneficial-Hodson Computing Center, heart of the campus computer and communications network. The imaging project office is also here, where an exciting pilot program is being developed for the electronic storage and retrieval of images, such as historic photographs and documents. The staff is currently working on storing images that are relevant to the Centennial celebration. We even have a classroom that is outfitted with state-of-the-art audiovisual equipment.

The reference collection spans the Rosemont Avenue side, with study tables in the center and carrels on the perimeter.

On the left side of the lobby is the circulation desk, with the beauty of its custom millwork, it is only rivaled by its practicality. This is where you check out and return books and where materials are held on reserve for classes.

The grand staircase with its regal newel posts, graceful cherry banister, and ironwork balustrade takes you to the second floor. (An elevator also is available.)

The second floor has more of a traditional look. This level is primarily devoted to periodicals, but you’ll also find part of the general collection here. The cherry archway to the right leads to the director’s suite and the conference room. Glass and cherry cabinetry outside the suite showcase Hood memorabilia.

The conference room, bathed in natural light from windows on two walls, can accommodate 50-60 people. It is used for college and community meetings, receptions and classes.

The conservation lab lies next to the conference room. Here among the book presses, glue pots, scalpels, and dye, volunteers rebind and repair books and manuscripts for the library. The archives and special collections are stored in compact shelving in the room adjoining the lab.

A prominent sign identifies the periodicals reading room, one of two large study rooms on this floor, featuring a bay window facing Rosenstock Hall. The library subscribes to approximately 1000 magazines, journals, and newspapers. Current periodicals are kept on slanted shelving on either side of this room. Back issues in bound volumes are shelved in the stacks immediately adjacent. There are study tables in this room as well as comfortable, grouped seating along the periphery.

Toward the back of the periodicals reading room you will see an archway that leads to the microforms center. The library now carries most back issues of periodicals on either microfilm or microfiche.

The reading porch, which stretches across the back of the building, is an attempt to “scale down” the back of the building so that it blends with the domestic architecture of the surrounding neighborhood. (Mr. Forgey of the “Washington Post” mentioned the success of this treatment in his article.) Our popular best seller’s collection, the new acquisitions purchased by faculty, and a small collection of books and articles by faculty and alumnae and alumni are all shelved on the reading porch.

The third floor holds 90 per cent of the library’s 160,000-volume collection. You will find group and individual study rooms along the back of the building, study tables and carrels around the perimeter, or you can relax in cozy lounge seating in the bay window. The ceiling opens to the fourth floor allowing light from the dormers to illuminate both floors. Vending machines on the fourth floor help increase the flow of traffic to both floors. This arrangement keeps both floors open, well-lit and secure.

On the fourth floor, you will find the fiction and biography collections. The massive heating, ventilating, and air conditioning system occupies the back half of this floor. Group and the individual study rooms line the front. Tables and lounge seating in the bay areas are provided, rimmed by a balcony with ironwork balusters and a cherry railing, where you can look down to the third floor.

The honors center, located next to the bay lounge, includes offices and a large seminar room used as a classroom and study space.

Well, those are the highlights of our tour. How do I like working in such pleasant surroundings? No surprise here—I like it a lot. What has been unexpected is the amount of pleasure I get when I overhear remarks from students such as, “Wouldja believe it? I really like going to the library now.” Then I just smile.