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Nightmare — And Dream Come True

By Marjorie Sherlock

Zero hour for the library came at 8 a.m., April 28, 1951. At that moment all the carefully-laid plans for the move from the old quarters to the new Rutherford Library were to be put to the test, and the moving staff consisting of 25 library staff members, 25 graduating students, 20 janitors, and 2 mover's trucks and drivers, swung into action.

The move had been preceded by much careful (and prayerful) planning. Every shelf in the old and new libraries was numbered and an exact plan of the new shelving arrangement made. Four hundred special wooden boxes with handles had been designed and made by the University Works Department. Wooden chutes had been built from the floor of the English stack room in the basement of the Arts Building to a loading platform on the sidewalk outside the windows. Besides the boxes and the chutes, there were "dollies," little wagons with rope handles, for moving the packed boxes to and from the loading areas. Now the fateful moment had come. The moving crew was divided into two groups, one for the old library and one for the new, and we were away!

Those who took part in the move retain a confused memory of dust, hard work, laughter, good fellowship, rain, and more dust. Books and unbound journals which had not seen the light of day for twenty years were unearthed amid clouds of dust, and moved to new quarters along with those in general use. We shall long remember the enthusiasm and willing co-operation of the graduating students, who, fresh from final exams and awaiting Convocation, treated the hard manual work as a sort of holiday. Nor shall we soon forget the energy and efficiency of Mr. "Scotty" Maclean who bullied and jollied us all into intensified effort by cracking an imaginary whip over our heads.

Mid-morning and mid-afternoon heard the cry of "Coffee Up," when everyone relaxed for ten minutes over coffee and cookies provided by the Librarian. Just to make things a little more difficult, the worst three-day gale and rain storm in ten years harassed us during the first week, and first one tarpaulin and then another collapsed amid the groans and jeers of the workers.

Each day at 5 p.m. we knocked off work convinced that we could not lift another book. And each successive day we reported at 8 a.m. ready for the fray once more. And so the move went on, and the Main Library and the various branch and departmental collections (a total of some 150,000 catalogued and uncatalogued volumes) were moved in the space of eight days. This, so far as we can learn, constitutes a record in library moving, and one of which we feel justly proud.

As the dust settled and the student helpers departed, the library staff got down to the task of setting the new library to rights, dusting, tidying, arranging displays and preparing for the Opening of the Library on May 15th — all to be done within the space of one week.

And now that we are in the new library, people ask us what it feels like. "Wonderful!" we reply fervently. But no single word, no matter how superlative, can possibly describe the sensations of wonder and relief we feel at the space and facilities that are now ours. After the crowded rooms and packed shelves of the old quarters, it gives us a feeling of astonished delight to contemplate the spacious reading rooms and book-stacks, and to find ourselves after so many years at last able to seat our readers in comfort and actually to shelve our books.

We can now enjoy our first experience of seminars and conference rooms, a microfilm room, a music room and an art gallery. Our projection room, seating 100 and equipped with motion picture and slide projectors, provides facilities for instructors requiring to illustrate their lectures, and also during the noon hour for the free showing of documentary and scientific films by the Department of Extension. The stacks contain 70 carrells or individual study cubicles for the use of faculty and graduate students.

Our Music room, comfortably furnished as a lounge and well supplied with $2,000 worth of long-playing records, will be used for recreational programs of recorded music in the late afternoons and evenings, and music appreciation talks. The Browsing area on the Second floor is furnished with comfortable red leather settees and chairs. It contains a continually changing collection of books for general reading, and invites our borrowers to read for pleasure.

The use of color in the Library is one of its outstanding features, and remains a constant source of pleasure. Each room is finished in a different color, and the soft tones of the panelled wood and the tiled and terrazzo floors harmonize with the walls to create an atmosphere of restfulness and beauty. The furniture is another joy to us. Every piece is new, and especially designed for us in blond oak or walnut to match the woodwork of the rooms.

For the first time in our history we can bring out from vault and cupboard, the library's treasures of rare books, old pictures and maps, and ornaments of glass and pottery, and display them to our public in the handsome new display cases.

From the point of view of library administration it is a great advantage to have the small reading rooms, formerly scattered over the campus, united under one roof. It enables us for the first time to provide trained reference staff for all, and to give much more efficient service and longer hours to these library users.

After the dark, stuffy, and crowded Work rooms of the past, the library staff can hardly as yet realize their good fortune in the large well-lighted working areas of the new library, fitted with the most up-to-date equipment. A staff elevator, a pneumatic tube system and book conveyor, and an electric book-lift help to make our service easier and more efficient.

It is now several months since we moved in, and we are still not used to the wonders of the building we now inhabit. Those of the staff who have lived through the old days almost pinch themselves at times to realize that at long last the dream has come true.

Published Summer 1951.

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