Saturday, April 07, 2007

The Microcosm of the Library

Fourth floor lobby of the UCSF library
Awesome natural lighting, sometimes you can spy on the basic science laboratories in the medical sciences building across the street. The dark windows at night belong to tenured faculty, the lighted windows belong to non-tenured faculty, or so we hypothesize.

Fourth floor reading room (nook/cranny)
Never read in here, but the chairs look comfy.

Fifth floor "Annex"/Corner office view of San Francisco
Quiet study area, can get chilly due to A/C, awesome view of the sunset around 5-6 p.m. Beautiful vaulted roof, home of "Santa Claus."
All photos courtesy of Alice Prussin Lighting Design
In dire times, I begin studying at the beautiful UCSF library and I always forget how the library is an amazing little microcosm unto itself. On the outside, the library seems pretty basic and non-descript, especially compared to Widener library's imposing neoclassical marble columns, but its greatest strengths inside lie in its unbeatable views of San Francisco and roomy/elegant atmosphere. As a library aficionado, I would rate the UCSF library extremely highly on my list of medical school libraries (okay, you can stop barfing now).
There are some interesting things about the library that I wanted to point out:
1) I never call the UCSF library by its real name, maybe because its the main library
2) The windows are lined by red latticework, which looks so pretty against the green evergreens outside and reminded me one afternoon that the red windows resemble the pylons of the Golden Gate Bridge...inadvertently?
3) On the 3rd main floor, there is a beautiful large window that looks like a picture frame, containing the Golden Gate Bridge outside.
4) The library is built on the steep slope (like almost anything at UCSF and San Francisco), so the 3rd floor is the main floor and every floor has a fantastic and unique view.
5) The chairs have cushions and there are plenty of tables...most of the time
6) Anyone (the general public) is welcome at the UCSF library, which differs markedly from the library policy at Harvard, where they force you to swipe your ID card, walk through a security booth, register any outside guests in a logbook, and force you to unzip your backpack and reveal all of your belongings and possibly stolen library books upon exit. The Harvard libraries must be up to code Orange by now.
Anyway, at UCSF, everyone is welcome, but eccentric people (some of them homeless) will often infiltrate the library and make life more interesting. This afternoon, a homeless man who was snoring loudly on the 3rd floor had to be escorted out by library security because he was disturbing other people. It made me a little sad.
Albert, who spends far more time at the library than I do, swears that there are at least two men who LIVE at the library:
- a man with crazy white hair who looks eccentric, dubbed by Albert as "Demented Einstein"
- a man with white hair and a white beard, always wearing a red sweatshirt and living at the fifth floor annex reading newspapers and sleeping, dubbed by Albert as "Santa Claus," I argued that he also looked "Hemingway-esque."
In the past months, Albert has become more intrigued by these two characters.
He swears that the two men LIVE at the library, that they NEVER leave, and that it's so WEIRD. Is it possible that they're bums?
I looked at Albert and said, "Takes one to know one."

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