Long Overdue: Books We Love and Never Knew

This exhibition highlights the extreme ends of the circulation of architecture books at the Fine Arts Library (FAL). The top 100 and bottom 100 volumes from the collection have been brought together in the gallery-cum-reading room. The “top” books are those that statistically have been the most requested over the last five years. These are our dog-eared, coffee-stained constant companions living on studio desks and in faculty offices more than in the library. The “bottom” 100 have never been checked out, never known the touch of a hand or a stamp on a due date tag, but it is hoped you will see there are many gems in this portion worthy of interest and useful to research. These unsullied books reveal the depth of the FAL collection and its commitment to gathering unique material appropriate to a research library at a great research university.

Some interesting facts regarding the library include Andrew Dickson White’s original bequest of his personal book collection being predicated on the establishment of architectural studies at Cornell. In his 1870 presidential report, White complained about the state of the discipline in America noting, “The amount generally lavished on all sorts of excrescences in painted pine, whether Corinthian columns or Gothic pinnacles, is not merely waste but it is just as certainly a positive offense against taste and comfort.” Today, the perceived value of libraries across campus is highest among AAP undergraduate students according to university polling. Exiting AAP seniors rank the libraries as the #1 service on campus. Graduate students comprise the majority of users of print materials, interlibrary loan and reference services. In survey after survey, they credit the library for saving their GPAs and keeping their theses on track. Faculty members rank the library as a leading indicator of “work-life” satisfaction. 

Exhibition curated by Martha Walker and Mark Morris with kind assistance from library staff Ann Beyer, Carla Bahn, Maaike Oldemans, Brennen Feint, and Lydia Pettis alongside architecture students Matthias Slavens, Anthony Morin, and Tony-Saba Shiber.


Friday, October 29

4:30 p.m.

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