Friday, April 14, 2006

Quinnipiac University

Back in February, I had the opportunity to visit the campus at Quinnipiac University and meet the Connecticut librarians who had braved rain and traffic to participate in a discussion of library marketing and branding, led by yours truly.

While I can't say much for the soggy weather, the setting was beautiful, spirits were high and dialogue was lively. Ann DeVeaux of the Law Library was our host, and she graciously agreed to take me on a tour of the building in the afternoon.

I wanted to share a few photos and a few insights from the visit:

The integral architecture

The library wing is an integral part of the Law School’s physical building, and this fact underscores the entire ethos of the library and its role in students’ lives. Designed by Centerbrook Architects—a well-known design group in the region—the library’s physical building is well-thought out and takes advantage of natural sunlight in all parts of the space (even the below-ground floors). It utilizes brick and wood primarily, with neat extras like wall-washer lighting in the shape of books with inscriptions on them.

Sometimes rebirth involves death--and a lot of planning
The library was actually part of another institution that closed in the ‘90s. Ann was telling me about the frenetic year of planning for the new space, adapting for technology, arranging for moves of the current collection, weeding and selection of the collection as it was being moved into the new space, etc. She oversaw the building design and has been the Library Director ever since.

Microform as a hot commodity

A few of the things that surprised me about the Quinnipiac Law School Library was its volume of microfilm and microfiche. I wondered why they would want to devote such a significant space to their microforms, until Ann reminded me that U.S. Law is based on precedent. And some many times, students must look up precedents from centuries before. These materials have not yet been digitized and the cost/value for doing so, when microform is such a stable media, isn’t yet worth the marginal increase in (off-campus) convenient access. The Library has also served as a government depository (GPO) institution as well, which contributes to its overall microform holdings.

The Grand Courtroom

One of the neatest parts of the building is their Grand Courtroom. The Grand Courtroom is designed as a place where students can conduct a mock trial before a judge and jury and make appellate arguments to a panel of judges. On several occasions, it also hosts sessions of the Connecticut Supreme and Appellate Courts…so it is definitely a place where the library, the students and the public life come together.

Ann was a wonderful host, with what appears to be a fabulously working library.
Turning back to today, I can't ever make it through this day without reflecting on my beloved Freshman English professor, Dr. Ted Stirling. He read literary works with such passion, with dog in tow. It was in his class that I woke up to literature as a medium to carry emotional expression. And of course, it was his class that drove me to discover the riches of our campus library.

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