- Planning the University Library Building: A Summary of Discussions by Librarians, Architects, and Engineers ed. by John E. Burchard, Charles W. David, Julian P. Boyd (review)
- University of Toronto Quarterly
- University of Toronto Press
- Volume 19, Number 2, January 1950
- pp. 210-211
- View Citation
- Additional Information
210 THE UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO QUARTERLY paedia make one approach with doubting mind even the true information therein contained. LEONID I. STRAKHOVSKY Planning the University Library Building: A Summary of Discussions by Librarians, Architects, and Engineers. Edited by JoHN E. BuRCHARD, CHARLES w. DAVID, and jULIAN P. BoYD, with the assistance of LEROY C. MERRITT. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press [Toronto: Saunders]. 1949. Pp. xvili, 145. ($3.75) This is an important book. It is the result of discussions which have taken place over several years among some of the outstanding university librarians in the United &tates, as well as some library architects and engilleers, in regard to the ,planning of the university library building of •the future. It was in 1944 thaJt President Harold W. Dodds of Princeton University had the happy idea of inviting the heads of fifteen universities and colleges in the United States ·to join in setting up a committee that would examine the whole problem of university library architeoture; and in consequence the "Cooperative Committee on Library Building Plans" came into being. The Commi-ttee held a number of meetings between 1944 and 1948, and the present volume may be regarded as its report. Though ·the committee has avoided "the temptation to plan an ideal or model library building," it is clear that they have rejected all the traditional types of library building, and have been won over to the new idea of "modular)) library architecture--that is to say, "a library in which the building is the stack, and the stack is othe building, and in which all possible space is free and easily adaptable to use as stack, reading, or administrative area." "Few contemporary librarians," they asse11t, "1 are willing to accept a building which imposes on rthe future , the past or present pattern of book use and management. Almost every building now being planned seeks flexibility in some way. As a building concept flexibility is not new. Office and warehouse buildmgs have, for example, long been constructed so that interior space can be rearranged more or less at will. Such possibilities ... seem well adapted to ·the indubitable need of flexibility rrn libraries., Although the :committee is apparently unanimous in recommending the "modular'' type of library architecture, there are other fundamental questions on which there has been disagreement-notably, on the problem of free access to books. Its members seem, in general, to favour this idea; but they appear to approve the idea of a turnstile at the entrance to the library, at which :the patrons of :the library are "frisked"-:-something tilat seems out of place in an academic oommunity . Yet they admit that "first-rate opinions still differ as rt:o whether it is preferable to suffer numerous .losses and make the library SHORTER NOTICES 211 psychologically more approachable, or to stop some of the losses and impose a disagreeable barrier,', and that "no general agreement seems possible, on the question of whether the 'open-stack' or ,the 'closedstack ' library :is preferred.'' One could wish that the book had contained an authoritaJtive discussion of this vital problem, on which certain phases of library architecture undoubtedly turn. There is, for example, no suggestion •thaJt the problem has a moral side. The open-access system not only leads Jto heavy (and sometimes irreplaceable) losses, but it also gives an unfair advantage to the dishonest and unscrupulous student. It has always seemed to the presen~ reviewer essential1that the library should protect the honest student from -the depredations of the book-thief, and under this heading one may include the student who appropriaJtes a book to himself or herself before an examination. In general, this book is rather a symposium of opinions than a pronunciamento. But no one who is concerned with •the problem-the almost insoluble problem-of the university library building of the f utuTe, whether he be tthe president of a university or a first-year undergraduaJte , can fail to derive a great deal of illumination from this report. w. s. WALLACE Essays in Criticism) 1920-1948: Representing the Achievement of Modern British and American Critics. Selected by RoBERT WooSTER STALLMAN. With a Foreword by CLEANTH BROOKS. New York: Ronald Press Co...