Berry Library

by Paul Marino | 4/11/03 5:00am

Hasty construction, gray walls, wasted

electronics and crappy sculptures. Such is the hallmark of the Berry Library. I admire the architecture and craftsmanship I find in the older libraries here at Dartmouth, particularly Sanborn. The space has character. The warm lighting and woody tones are comfortable to the eye. You know how long it must have taken to build a place like Sanborn? Many a year, that's for sure. And back then they didn't have machines, so they had to use mules to build it. Imagine the poor mules slaving over every intricate detail, but such are the pains of fine craftsmanship.

Now, this Berry library is 500 times the volume of Sanborn, and they threw that piece of crap up in 15 minutes. In contrast, the Berry Library's neon lighting and "blank gray" square walls are numbing to the eye. What's up with that? I'll tell you what's up with that. No one cares about quality anymore. All they're interested in is quantity.

Once the ugly gray walls were raised and the roof tacked on, it was apparent that something was missing. So they bought up a bunch of expensive electronics: wide, flat-screen televisions, electronic message boards, hundreds of inaccessible computers. "Jones Media Center, could you use a huge wide-screen TV? Because we've got an extra one lying around."

"Now that I think about it, we could really use one to show muted CNN footage on one half and the library database on the other."

But something was still missing. So they called up the wholesale art warehouse. "Send us 50 large, abstract metal sculptures."

"Don't you want to pick them out of our catalogue?"

"We haven't got time. Just send up a truck-full." And so now, randomly scattered throughout the library, in virtually every obscure, empty space in Berry, stands an ugly, unnoticed sculpture on top of a gray box. It really adds diversity to the atmosphere. I see a lot of students admiring these sculptures during brief study breaks.

"Hey, Bruno, look at this sculpture. Wow, the way this metal cube is welded to the metal rectangle"

"I think it represents a bird penis."

But, hey, the blitz-mongrels aren't complaining. The gods of blitz installed about 25 computers on the way into Berry from Baker, next to the stacks. Don't worry -- they're all "blitz stations," at the perfect height for blitzing on-the-run. We wouldn't want those computers to fall into the hands of students with actual work or even poor public school kids. "Oh my god, I wonder if anybody blitzed me." There's only one way to find out, sweetcakes: the hard way.

"What's up, dude."

"What's up."

"What are you up to tonight?"

"I don't know. We should hang out."

"Send me a blitz, man."

"I will."

"Cool."

But then you never blitz each other.

I wonder what Mr. Berry thinks of his library. He probably strolls in now and then, checks his blitz, chats it up for a while. He's proud of the facility. I wonder what Mr. Berry looks like. I imagine him as a struggling black saxophonist. But buildings don't often get named around here in honor of a special hero, whose character the building embodies. More often they are named after whoever writes the biggest check. That is nice to know. And you know they flatter the pants off the guy who donates the building, throwing around words like "philanthropist" and "generous" around while they commemorate the building in his honor.

Well, Mr. Berry, I'm afraid you've been double-crossed. Those people -- they're not really your friends. In fact, they just wanted your cash to build a crappy library. Just like they wanted Mr. Novack and Mr. Carson's clams, too, the suckers.

Hey, Mr. Berry, if you flipped the grand bill for this library, how come it says "Carson" on one entrance, "Novack" on another and the other entrance is just a hole in Baker?

But don't hold it against your friends Carson and Novack. They got the shaft just like you. Novack must have paid a pretty penny to build that rat nest. And Carson -- man, this guy got the wet end of the shit stick. Are you telling me that Carson is a different place? This guy Carson probably put up 10 million clams just to have his name put up in four-foot letters on the side of a building that's already got a name. You walk into Carson and there you are in a hallway that goes straight into the rat nest and up the stairs to Berry. Oh, but wait -- they erected imaginary walls, so that if you're at the Circulation Desk, you're in Berry, but then you walk over to the Computer Help desk, and you're in Carson. You may not have even realized that you have exited one building and entered another.

They should have built Berry Library in the shape of a gigantic bust of Mr. Berry with a wheelchair ramp leading up to the revo

lving door in his mouth, which would symbolize his constant spewing of verbal rubbish.

Man, I don't even know this poor guy Berry. Who am I to judge another man?

Mr. Berry, I'm sure you're all right. But listen, next time you've got an extra 20 million under your mattress, you might as well just feed Nicaragua for six months. Or I tell you what, you buy me a couple of ice-cold brews and I'll stick your name on those babies with a label-maker. It's all tax deductible.

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