Tuesday, March 25, 2008

It Would Be Amusing, Were It Not So Sad

The LC administration apparently has proposed an amusing idea: move the European Reading Room into a "corner office": the Southeast Pavilion (behind the current area).

I would highly encourage everyone to go look at this space for yourselves. Good for cocktail parties, no doubt, but where will they put the books that line two floors of the current reading room? How in the world are you going to organize staff desks and reference materials into a circle--and provide electrical service in the middle of a marble floor?

Furthermore, this would destroy the symmetry of the building, whereby the European and Africa-Middle East rooms flank the Great Hall (see here). This is not just aesthetically displeasing, it's a demotion for the entire European region, even though the European Reading Room has the highest usage.

One can assume that the whole purpose of this is to use the current space for exhibitions or private events. Therefore researchers will have to walk through a gaggle of tourists or lobbyists in order to get their reading space. And there's no doubt that the environment will not be conducive for reading.
I can just imagine the looks on the faces of our colleagues from the Lenin Library of Bibliotheque Nationale, when they confront this nightmare.

Time to go back to the drawing board. It would be amusing if it were not so sad. Keep getting those messages in to Congress (link here for info). We need to stand up for common sense.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

It's sad to see the United States Government swap a domain of serious academic research for some tourist attraction. The US is home to the best institutions of higher education in the world, in some part because it -at least historically- has supported its scholars. Given the vast resources devoted so many trivial or counterproductive pursuits, it is hard to believe that the USG can't spare a room and negligible funding to support that which really keeps the nation strong: knowledge.