December 7, 2010 -
I’ve never considered myself to be much of a library person. When I was growing up, I would do anything to keep my parents or babysitters from taking me to the local library. My attitude toward libraries didn’t get much better during undergrad: I ended up at a college where the campus and dorms were gorgeous but the library was severely lacking. If anything, the dim lights, white walls, and tall stacks kind of scared me. In college, I only resorted to the library when I wanted to escape from any source of inspiration or creativity.
But the first time I walked into the main room of Lillian Goldman Library at Yale Law School, I was in love. First there’s the history behind the place. The very idea of sitting at the same tables and carrels once frequented by future Supreme Court justices like Sonia Sotomayor and Samuel Alito is overwhelming. It was within these walls that future U.S. leaders Arlen Specter and Gerald Ford began their illustrious public service careers. In fact, I’ve been told that a pair of youngsters named Bill and Hillary first met after one spotted the other across the room here.
Then there’s the majesty of it: the place looks like a palace. Although the library has six levels, I spend the bulk of my time in on the third floor main room, famous for its sky-high ceilings and stained glass windows. The designs and carvings on the walls must’ve taken years to accomplish in such painstaking detail. There are low-hanging majestic chandeliers, and lamps and electrical outlets are available for every single seat in the room.
And there’s more to the library than just the law books, which total over 800,000. There are laptops available to borrow and reference librarians who can help you with pretty much anything in the world. There’s an unrivaled collection of rare books and a ton of DVDs, including the full series of "The Wire" to "Sex and the City." There are rotating exhibits on topics ranging from comic books to the Civil Rights Movement. The library also sponsors lectures and discussions; one of the talks last week was entitled “The Impact of the Haitian Earthquake on its Libraries – A Report from the Ground.” It was even rumored recently that students might soon be able to check out a live dog from the library. Most folks would think that’s crazy. But given the remarkable options we have now, it wouldn’t really surprise me.