When you come to campus day in and day out for decades it’s easy to fall into thinking that nothing really changes much. But while it’s true that things change slowly at universities, the physical plant sometimes changes abruptly although at wide intervals. Hence, despite my belief that I’ve been walking into the same library for nearly thirty years I haven’t been.
The middle one is what it looked like when I got here, the last one what I see when I come in today:
More about those tables tomorrow.
Bonus: But the back stairs are always the same.
The top picture looks very much like what I remember as the entrance’s appearance when I arrived on campus as a freshman in 1983. What is the date on that photo?
It’s not dated. Could be almost any time.
Although the picture is too dark to see for sure, the profile of the woman, suggests she has on a dress or a very full coat. My mother has told me that women were not allowed in the library in pants during her time at Rice. By the time I arrived in 1968, the “no pants for women” rule had been abolished, thank goodness. Therefore, the picture probably antedates 1968.
I loved the smell and atmosphere of the old Fondren. There is an evocative description of the feel and sounds of Fondren in one of Larry McMurtry’s books, I think it is “All My Friends Are Going to Be Strangers.
Why were there numbers over the inner door frame?
That was the circulation desk and it’s not clear to me what the numbers were for. Take a look at this:
Oh those gorgeous card catalogs….
There was an experiment with closed stacks for a while before I arrived in 1980. The numbers were for notifying patrons that their books had been retrieved and were ready for pickup. And a few years ago I saw old catalog cards being used as scratch paper at catalog terminals. Made me very sad. And yes, _All My Friends Are Going To Be Strangers_ has a lengthy description of the library as of the late ’60s. I remember that there used to be worn cork floor in many places.
The library entrance looked like the top picture until the 1990 Economic Summit, which led to a massive remodeling of the library (and, as far as I can tell, had no discernible benefit to the University.)