In perspective: student views of the Blakley Library

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Malory Bowen is a senior history major.

In all honesty the library at the University of Dallas is not very good. Some of the problems are small, like the fact that it is so badly lit, or the fact that the periodicals section is always cold enough to rival Antarctica, or how they don’t label the sections of the library with anything other than those obnoxious numbers and letters that don’t tell you where the “History Section” or the “English Section” or the “Politics Sections” are. The Braniff’s doors are labeled with the departments on each floor, so why can’t the doors in the library be similarly labeled? And other sections lack even that nifty little number system. I’ve heard stories of the science section, where books are forced to live stacked on their sides, abandoned to utter chaos.

But the most pervasive problem is the lack of useful books in the library. Not to say that there are none at all; every now and again while researching for a paper, you’ll stumble over an absolute gem that forms the foundation for your entire argument. But time and time again, you run into a brick wall – assuming the library even has books on your topic, you still have to worry about their quality. The books are also very old and often too out of date even for history majors to really use – professors think you’re mad if you try to rely solely on the library’s first-edition-published-in-1951 books and don’t get off campus to use the one at SMU.  As a university, we shouldn’t have to rely on someone else’s library for all of our research.
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Louis Hannegan is a junior politics major and the Commentary Editor.

Though one would expect the icon of studiousness at the heart of an intellectual community to provide adequate facilities for rigorous study, our library does not meet that ideal.  Putting overarching problems such as less-than-inspiring architecture aside, the facilities in the William A. Blakley Library could desperately use a few improvements that would not take that much effort or money.

To avoid a laundry list of complaints and better the chances of some improvements, let’s focus on one issue: light.

Though passable during the day, after sunset periodicals section is dim enough to cause even the strongest eyes to ache and the most caffeine-laden student to nod.  The sun has been setting progressively earlier as the semester wears on and will continue to do so.  For the next few weeks, lights-out is slated for about 5:25 p.m.  And so the primary quiet study area on campus will remain an occasion of sleep during one of the most popular times for students to work on homework at the busiest time of the semester.

Like the periodicals section, the cubicles on the second and third floors could also use more light. The windows next to the cubicles, though allowing a warm glow through the closed blinds, fail to meet expectations as well.  Reaching over to the dangling cord to adjust the blinds, you find a little note demanding that the shades stay closed to protect the books.  It’s a reasonable request, but you still are left trying to figure out how to get some light into your little box.  Sunset only makes the problem worse as even the glow through the blinds fades.

Unlike some of the bigger problems with our campus and facilities, the problem of lighting has a relatively cheap and easy solution.  When someone does not have sufficient light at home or in their office, he simply screws in a brighter bulb or adds another light source.  Why can’t we do the same in our library?

In the case of the periodicals section, both options are available.  To brighten up the place, facilities could start by putting brighter bulbs in the existing fixtures and replacing the burnt out bulbs.  If that does not solve the problem, then perhaps we could add another light source in the room, like a lamp at each table.

A similar plan would greatly improve the cubicles.  As well as installing more powerful bulbs in the ceiling, facilities could add lights on the underside of the shelves.  They would not have to be anything fancy or all that powerful – just a few watts of light close to the books.

Though the library could use many improvements, better lighting would be a good place to start.  Nay-sayers will undoubtedly emerge, quick to focus on costs and obstacles.  But what improvement does not cost money and what change does not take effort?  So let’s not get bogged down in the few hundred dollars in costs or technical difficulties these changes present.  After all, intellectual achievements are “our priority” at the University of Dallas – and therefore the effort to ensure an environment in which these accomplishments can take place should be as well.

3 COMMENTS

  1. Dear Malory and Lous,

    I could not agree with you more. The library is 1) poorly organized (its book shelves) 2) lacking in books 3) uncomfortable. The library is old, cold, and, frankly, ugly. And as much as some might disagree, economy does not come before aesthetics. If my surrounding lacks beauty, my mood as well as my ability to study are affected. Thank you for your article! And, one more thing. It’s always so darn cold on campus!!

  2. The funny thing about the Library of Congress classification system is that it is actually a classification system by subjects. As I did research, I often found that I could find what I needed by simply perusing the section I was in already instead of just finding one book in a section.

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