Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A Nomadic Student in the Libraries of the University of Texas

Here is my postcard shot of the heart of the University of Texas campus showing the iconic tower. What many people do not realize is that the tower is a library. When I was an undergraduate, it was the Main Library on campus. I learned on my orientation tour that only graduate students and professors could climb the stairs to the many floors loaded with books. I had to request titles at the main desk and wait for them to be delivered later. I was encouraged instead to spend my time at the Undergraduate Library located in the Main Library's morning shadow.

As I started my freshman year at UT, I almost daily passed the Renaissance tapestry to settle into a study carrel of the Undergraduate Library where I could look out at rows of students at tables and carrels or turn to look at the ever-present pigeons outside the windows. For a break I might go upstairs and look at the Earle Stanley Gardner desk and typewriter. There was also an audio lab where I could request headphones and a music selection. Constant student traffic and the appealing diversions, however, made the Undergraduate Library a less than ideal spot to study.

I took my books and wanderlust on a campus tour trying to find the perfect place to study. While I never found it, I did enjoy the shade of trees, bird songs, and vistas from grand staircases. I also discovered a wealth of libraries. I remember studying in the following at some point in my tenure as a student:

  • The Physics and Math Library
  • The Engineering Library
  • The Chemistry Library
  • The Catholic Student Center Library
  • The Art Library
  • The Geology Library
  • The Communications Library
  • The Reference Room of the Main Library
  • The Library School Library in the Harry S. Ransom Center
  • The Perry Castenada Library (which became the new main library when I was a graduate student)

There may have been more libraries that I do not now remember. I did not spend much time in my room. Instead, I was out looking for an open table, comfortable chair, quiet, and academic atmosphere - a place that fit my romantic desire for scholastic immersion.

The tower is now the Science Library, and I am now a student far far away.

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