Dialogue

Inquiring Minds
FROM STEVEN BELL:
This was an inspiring piece on why libraries still matter (“Still Here,” by Mark Lamster, July/August 2012, p. 46), whether it’s about books, sacred space, lectures, collections, exhibitions, or computer access. It would be great if it mentioned the librarians who make it possible for libraries to bring value to their communities. Librarians help people navigate the challenges of having access to too much information and the difficulty in discovering the highest quality content. There will always be people who are passionate about doing research, reading, exploring mysteries, and making new discoveries. Those are the people to whom libraries still matter.

FROM JOHN EGAN:
The off-site facility that is currently shared by the New York Public Library, Princeton University, and Columbia University, named ReCAP, serves several purposes. It enables improved environmental conditions and security for important historical and specialized research collections. It provides a responsive physical and electronic delivery service. Books are delivered in one or two days to users depending on the time of the request. But if the request is for an article or chapter, these items can be scanned and posted for much faster and secure access over the web. This arrangement has allowed Columbia to expand the space for library users on the campus. The use of library facilities has increased significantly, as our students and researchers view libraries as valuable intellectual, community, and social spaces.

Looking to the Past
FROM JIM NEAL:
The observations on Tod Williams and Billie Tsien’s Barnes Foundation design (“Channeling Albert Barnes,” by Karrie Jacobs, July/August 2012, p. 32) are well done. This isn’t the best new architecture in Philly since the 1930s, but it accomplished all that could be expected from a difficult commission—and then some. This building looks surprisingly like the one it replaced—the Youth Studies Center by Carroll, Grisdale & Van Allen—which also turned its back on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway. The more things change, the more they stay the same.

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