UVA Today (um, four years ago): What We Found in Alderman Library. This tab has been sitting open in my iPad since the week it was published, and I haven’t been quite sure why. But there’s something about a University library for the sheer heart-clutching density of human knowledge. And mystery.
This was maybe the thing about Alderman Library. More than the merciful solitude it offered to stop, think, right, read, study. (I translated more than a few works from Old English there because the deafening quiet allowed me finally to speak the words to myself in my head.) More than the memories of happy discoveries — like digging out the Alderman bound copy of the 1870-1871 archive of the Virginia University Magazine, opening it to the January issue, and reading “Music: There is one point on which we are deficient, and that is college musical clubs… We know of but one exception to this rule. Those gentlemen rooming at the Cabell House, and in that neighborhood, have made great efforts, and we understand tolerably successful ones, to form a Glee Club.”
But even more there was the sense that in any room, you could climb a narrow set of stairs (oh, those submarine-scale stairs between the half floors in the Stacks!), sidle down a row of shelves, pick up a book, and find something miraculous.
I get a little thrill when I turn up new Glee Club material via Google, but it doesn’t compare to perusing the library stacks. It’ll be interesting to check out the new experience when it reopens.