Strangely, I Miss Cornell’s Library This Summer

Two months ago, I would have given anything to go as far away from Cornell’s libraries as possible. The library is the best representative of the work stress that Cornell students face every semester. But now that I really am as far away from Cornell as possible (on Earth), I realize that it is easy to take Cornell libraries for granted when there’s one within every two hundred meters. I have yet to come across a book (in English) that is not available at the Cornell. In the past year, I have found everything from obscure academic texts, recent New York Times best sellers to historical records of Tamil Nadu, an Indian state. In fact, I even found a first edition copy of a play I’m in love with, in the Division of Rare and Manuscript Collections.

However, that’s hardly surprising considering that in February, Cornell Library announced the arrival of its 8 millionth physical volume. Every time I try to imagine eight million books spatially, I am stumped. So I try to think about it one library rack at a time, in Olin Library.

That's one row of bookshelves.

That’s one row of bookshelves.

And that many rows per floor.

And that many rows per floor. (Now you know what a horizontal abyss looks like.)


That many floors + 3 underground floors of book stacks at Olin Library

That was the largest of nearly 20 library divisions/buildings at Cornell.

Although there are usually a couple copies of the same book (different editions perhaps), sometimes they may all be checked out. In that case, I use the BorrowDirect service which allows library users to request books from other Ivy League universities’ and MIT’s libraries.

As I’m back in Delhi for the summer, Cornell’s library system is one of the things I really miss. Now if I come across an interesting book, I can’t just search for it on the online catalog, find its call number and get the book from the stacks. Not just books, I could also find historical maps, ¬†audio and video collections and research papers with ease at Cornell. If I couldn’t find it myself, the librarians were always incredibly friendly and knowledgeable.

So if you happen to visit Cornell, be sure to checkout the libraries. It’s paradise for those who seek books, information, a place to nap or simply a selfie at the “Harry Potter” library.

Andrew Dickson White Library at Uris Library, or simple “Harry Potter” library.

Visit the Cornell University Library website to explore the full catalog and services offered by the library.