Reading Room, Once and Again
was a return to the future on Monday, Nov. 29, when a room
inside the front entrance to Neilson Library, renovated and
transformed into a handsome reading room, was opened to the
Susan Bourque, government,
and Chris Loring, director of libraries, teamed for
the reading room ribbon-cutting.
The new Friends of the Libraries
Reading Room, a bright, expansive space for studying and
quiet relaxation opposite the Neilson Browsing Room, became
available for use upon the cutting of the ribbon before a
crowd of students, faculty and library friends.
“This is a memorable day for all who love books,” said Susan Bourque, Esther
B. Wiley Professor of Government and former provost, before scissoring the ribbon, “especially
for those who love libraries and who see libraries as more than repositories
for our priceless human inheritance of books, but also as central to the joy
and possibilities of continuous learning.”
“By celebrating the opening of this reading room today, we are returning the
room to its rightful purpose,” noted Chris Loring, director of libraries, during
the ceremony. When Neilson Library first opened its doors, on November 29, 1909,
he explained, the room served as a reading room, and remained for that purpose
The new reading room is one
in a succession of transformations that have taken place
in Neilson Library in recent years, including additions of
the Information Commons and the Spinelli Quantitative Learning
Center, and the renovation of the Collocott Room. The $740,000
reading room project included the relocation of library staff
offices to a renovated area next to the circulation desk.
staff members Janice Mason (on left) and Susan Barker
are among the first reading room patrons.
Identical in dimension to the
Neilson Browsing Room, the reading room mirrors its well-used
twin with a double-door entryway, tall, peaked windows and
white globe lights overhead. Though, as a reading room, the
new facility emits a warmer, more intimate air, with ample
cushioned chairs and sofas bordered by dark pine tables and
cabinets topped with reading lamps.
Display cases—one inside
the room’s front entrance
and one lining the rear wall—exhibit materials from the Sophia
Smith Collection and the Mortimer Rare Book Room, adding
a sense of history and scholarship.
The reading room was
designed by architect Peter Lapointe (Archimetrics Design
Studio, Northampton) with interior design by Lisa Lukas (Lukas
Design), and with support, including fundraising, from the
“This is meant to be a room where people can meet, where they can read for
fun, or read seriously, for classes and research,” described Loring, “where
they can talk, and where they can study.”
A formal dedication of the reading
room will take place in April, according to Loring.